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Ptilosarcus gurneyi

(Fleshy Sea Pen)


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Common Names

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Common Names in English:

Fleshy Sea Pen, Orange Sea Pen, Sea Feather


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Physical Description

Species Ptilosarcus gurneyi

A sea pen with a fleshy lower part of stalk , which is buried in the sediment. Upper part of central stalk (rachis) has a hard central support . Branches are thick and fleshy with small polyps along the edges . Usually yellow or orange, often large (up to 1/2 meter). Has great powers to expand or contract. The entire central part (rachis) is said to be one large polyp. Smaller, inconspicuous polyps open into it and pump water in an out as needed for expansion or contraction. [1]


Sand and mud bottoms in 25' to 300' from Alaska to southern California

Biome: Marine .


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Produces a strong greenish luminescence when disturbed .[1]


Preyed upon by several nudibranchs, including Hermissenda crassicornis, Armina californica, and Tritonia festiva, and of the seastars Dermasterias imbricata, Pycnopodia helianthoides, Mediaster aequalis, and Crossaster papposus. The sea pens may rapidly burrow into the sediment when contacted by a predator . Although they do not appear to burrow when exposed only to seawater which contained a predatory seastar, they were more likely to burrow after contacting a predatory seastar if they had already been exposed to its smell. This species responds to different predators differently. [1]


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Leioptilus guerneyiLeioptilus quadrangularePtilosarcus quadrangularePtilosarcus quadrangularis


Name Status: Accepted Name .

Comment: shelf

Last scrutiny: 2004-2007

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Ptilosarcus

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 1 species and subspecies in this genus:

P. gurneyi (Fleshy Sea Pen)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal March 02, 2008:



  1. Cowles, Dave. Key to Invertebrates Found At or Near The Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory (a campus of Walla Walla University) Fidalgo Island, Anacortes, WA May 2009. [back]
Last Revised: 2014-05-07