BIOTIC Species Information for Virgularia mirabilis
Researched byJacqueline Hill & Emily Wilson Data supplied byMarLIN
Refereed byThis information is not refereed.
General Biology
Growth formPinnate
Feeding methodPassive suspension feeder
Mobility/MovementTemporary attachment
Environmental positionEpifaunal
Typical food typesPlankton and organic particles. HabitAttached
BioturbatorNot relevant FlexibilityLow (10-45 degrees)
FragilityFragile SizeLarge(>50cm)
HeightUp to 60 cm Growth RateInsufficient information
Adult dispersal potentialVery limited (<1m) DependencyIndependent
General Biology Additional Information
  • Typical abundance: usually found at densities of ca >5 individuals / m².
  • Flexibility: Eno et al., (1996) found that sea pens bent away from lobster pots dropping on top of them in a passive response to the pressure wave travelling ahead of the dropping pot.
  • Feeding: Virgularia mirabilis does possess nematocysts and so the species is probably capable of both passive predation on small zooplanktonic organisms and suspension feeding of suspended material (Hoare & Wilson, 1977). Laboratory experiments have shown that the polyps of Virgularia mirabilis are capable of capturing (by trapping with nematocysts) and ingesting small active organisms such as Artemia nauplii. However, Virgularia mirabilis is a passive carnivore, waiting for small animals that stumble, or are swept, into the tentacles of the sea pen. Suspension feeding occurs when very small particles become trapped in mucus on the tentacles and are then transported to the mouth by cilia. Suspension feeding is evidenced by the orientation of many colonies at right angles to the water current.
  • Evidence of predation on Virgularia mirabilis seems limited to a report by Marshall & Marshall (1882 in Hoare & Wilson, 1977) that the species was found in the stomach of haddock. Observations by Hoare & Wilson (1977) suggest however, that predation pressure on this species is low.
Biology References Hoare & Wilson, 1977,
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