Jul 17

Orange Sea Pen

By Graeme Contributor

Graeme is an experienced and well trained diver, with PADI Divemaster and Master Scuba Diver status in addition to CAUS Scientific Diver Lv.2 and being a Canadian standards (CSA Z275.4-02 and CSA Z275.5-05) trained commercial scuba and surface supply diver. Currently employed as a commercial diver in the interior of British Columbia, he is always looking to improve his skills, gain new qualifications, and do as much diving as possible!

Size: up to 46cm high and 10cm wide

Range: Alaska to central California

Habitat: intertidal and shallow subtidal, preferring sandy substrate to a depth of 100m (and possibly deeper!)

Description: a bright orange organism, with a bulb concealed in the sea floor extending up into a thick stalk with fleshy looking frills/branches that end in polyps. Sedentary, it can be found alone or in small groups. Normally sessile, it can move by using currents to propel it to a new location.

Fun Facts: named for its similar appearance to an old fashioned quill pen, the Orange Sea Pen is a truly unique animal, in that it's not actually one animal! Orange Sea Pens are actually colony creatures. Their predators include most sea stars and a number of nudibranchs. Nudibranchs that have eaten this sea pen are often orange hued afterwards! One of the most interesting features of the Orange Sea Pen can only been seen by night though. When gently touched along the polyps, the Orange Sea Pen will emit light along its fronds, in a beautiful bioluminescent reaction!

Information from: Whelks to Whales (2006), Wikipedia entry: Sea Pens, Oceana entry: Orange Sea Pen

Photos by: Graeme A. Barber

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