Virgularia mirabilis (O F Müller, 1776)

Virgularia mirabilis

Description: Forms elongated, very slender colonies with narrow "leaves" bearing polyps. Colour yellowish or whitish; capable of luminescence in darkness. Up to 600mm long with central stem only a few mm thick. All sea-pens possess an internal calcareous skeletal rod (axis): in this species it is round in section and often protrudes from the top of the colony.

Habitat: Lives embedded in mud, into which it can withdraw. Occurs in sheltered localities in depths greater than about 5m.

Distribution: All coasts of Britain and Ireland, locally abundant. Generally distributed around western Europe and in the north Atlantic, also in the Mediterranean.

Similar Species: Only Funiculina quadrangularis is similar but its polyps are not arranged in "leaves" and its axis is square in section.

Key Identification Features:

Distribution Map from BioMar data for Ireland - Google Earth map:  download this placemark (not got Google Earth installed?)

Distribution Map from NBN: Grid map (fast) : Interactive map (slow, requires login to view records) : National Biodiversity Network mapping facility, data for UK.

 Picton, B.E. & Morrow, C.C. (2015). Virgularia mirabilis (O F Müller, 1776). [In] Encyclopedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland. Accessed on 2015-3-28

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