Orange Sea Pen (Ptilosarcus gurneyi), photo by Derek Holzapfel
Marine biologist Ron Shimek knows a lot about sea pens and has now posted an article on them on E-Fauna BC. Here are a few nuggets of knowlege from his article: Sea pens are octocorals; sea pens are odd looking colonial sea creatures that look a lot like a quill pen; sea pens are very abundant in the soft sediments of the deep sea; sea pens are generally found in depths greater than 10m; colonies of sea pens occur in waters off the BC coast, where a colony can spread for dozens of kilometers.
In general, Ron says: "[Sea pens] are surprisingly abundant and, in fact, may be the dominant cnidarians over large regions of the earth’s surface; areas where stony corals, other octocorals, and most sea anemones are essentially absent, the deep sea soft-sediment bottom. The largest of Earth’s ecosystems, much of this area is characterized by the presence of sea pens. I doubt anybody has made the calculations, but I suspect that it would a sure bet to say that the biomass of sea pen living tissue exceeds that of all other benthic cnidarians combined."
Read more about sea pens in Ron's article (now posted in our Notes and Articles section) and visit our sea pen atlas pages for distribution maps. To view the atlas pages, just type 'sea pen' in the quick search box on the home page.
Four species of sea pens are listed for BC, including Ptilosarcus gurneyi, the Orange Sea Pen.
Read Ron's article here.
View Ron's photos on E-Fauna BC here.
Visit Ron's blog.