BIOTIC Species Information for Virgularia mirabilis
Researched byJacqueline Hill & Emily Wilson Data supplied byMarLIN
Refereed byThis information is not refereed.
Scientific nameVirgularia mirabilis Common nameSlender sea pen
MCS CodeD618 Recent SynonymsNone

PhylumCnidaria Subphylum
SuperclassAnthozoa ClassOctocorallia
Subclass OrderPennatulacea
Suborder FamilyVirgulariidae
GenusVirgularia Speciesmirabilis

Additional InformationAs is the case for all octocorals, sea pens are actually colonies of polyps. What distinguishes sea pens is polyp dimorphism. One polyp grows very large and loses its tentacles, forming the central axis. The central axial polyp is divided into two regions: a lower peduncle or stalk, which never bears secondary polyps and functions as a burrowing organ, and an upper stem or rachis, from which numerous secondary polyps bud. Some of these secondary polyps, called autozooids, are typical feeding polyps. Others, the larger and fewer siphonozooids, serve as intakes for water, which circulates within the colony and helps keep it upright. The axial polyp contains a slender, unbranched, calcareous skeletal rod (axis). In this species the axis is round in section and often protrudes from the top of the colony.

Virgularia mirabilis live upright with their stalks thrust into a mucus-lined burrow into which the whole colony can withdraw when disturbed.
Taxonomy References Howson & Picton, 1997, Hayward & Ryland, 1995b, Hayward et al., 1996, Manuel, 1988,
About MarLIN | Contact, Enquiries & Feedback | Terms & Conditions | Funding | Glossary | Accessibility | Privacy | Sponsorship

Creative Commons License BIOTIC (Biological Traits Information Catalogue) by MarLIN (Marine Life Information Network) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license are available at Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own terms and conditions and they may or may not be available for reuse. Based on a work at