Thursday, January 3, 2013

Tall Sea Pen

Funiculina quadrangularis
The Tall Sea Pen, like all Sea Pens, is a relative to Sea Anemones and Corals. And like Coral, though they may look like one creature, they are actually comprised of several organisms called polyps. These polyps, which are pale in color and possess eight tiny tentacles each, gather onto an axis, a long structure made of calcium carbonate. The species name, quadrangularis, actually refers to the cross-section shape of this axis-- a square.

Tall Sea Pens have a very interesting distribution. You'll find them near the British Isles and the North Atlantic, but you'll also find them way over by New Zealand and Japan as well-- halfway around the world! They live in colonies that can form literal Sea Pen forests, and exist at depths of between 20 and 2,300 feet. A large specimen can grow over 2 meters tall!

The aforementioned polyp tentacles are what allow this Cnidarian to feed. They sway in the water and pick up floating substrate using a method called suspension feeding. The polyps also have unique sexes to them, and each colony will only have polyps of the same sex on it.

IUCN Status : Not Listed
Location : North Atlantic, South Pacific
Size : Length up to 7ft (2.1m)
Classification : Phylum : Cnidaria -- Class : Octocorallia -- Order : Pennatulacea
Family : Funiculinidae -- Genus : Funiculina -- Species : F. quadrangularis

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