Sea gherkin (Pawsonia saxicola)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help



Pawsonia saxicola is up to 15 cm in length with a cylindrical body. The body is white in colour, however, it darkens on exposure to light. Tube feet are arranged into 5 rows longitudinally. The skin is smooth, with button like deposits. Star shaped spicules are found in the outer layers of skin. It has 10 mottled black, tree like feeding tentacles, up to 10 cm in length around the mouth.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Pawsonia saxicola is found on the south and west coasts of the British and Ireland.

Global distribution

Pawsonia saxicola is found on the Atlantic coast of France southwards to the Azores.


Pawsonia saxicola is found in rock crevices and under boulders from the lower shore to about 50 m.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Cylindrical white body, up to 15 cm in length.
  • 5 rows of long tube feet.
  • Star shaped spicules.
  • 10 mottled black tentacles, up to 10 cm in length)
  • Found in rock crevices and beneath boulders.

Additional information

Pawsonia saxicola may be confused with Aslia lefevrei as both species have similar tentacles. However, Pawsonia saxicola has a distinctive white body, while the body of Aslia lefevrei is brown in colour.

Listed by

- none -


  1. Fish, J.D. & Fish, S., 1996. A student's guide to the seashore. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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  3. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

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  5. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line]

  6. Mortensen, T.H., 1927. Handbook of the echinoderms of the British Isles. London: Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press.

  7. Picton, B.E. & Costello, M.J., 1998. BioMar biotope viewer: a guide to marine habitats, fauna and flora of Britain and Ireland. [CD-ROM] Environmental Sciences Unit, Trinity College, Dublin.

  8. Picton, B.E., 1993. A field guide to the shallow-water echinoderms of the British Isles. London: Immel Publishing Ltd.


  1. Centre for Environmental Data and Recording, 2018. IBIS Project Data. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-25.

  2. Centre for Environmental Data and Recording, 2018. Ulster Museum Marine Surveys of Northern Ireland Coastal Waters. Occurrence dataset accessed via on 2018-09-25.

  3. Fenwick, 2018. Aphotomarine. Occurrence dataset Accessed via on 2018-10-01

  4. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from:

  5. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-05-18


This review can be cited as:

Ager, O.E.D. 2007. Pawsonia saxicola Sea gherkin. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 18-05-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 07/06/2007