(To see the most detail in this image, click on it to enlarge it!)
Sea Pens are graceful creatures resembling a plump, old-fashioned quill pen. They are classified as colonial octocorals, and, unlike other octocorals, each Sea Pen is a colony of polyps, each with eight tentacles. They are supported by internal skeletal structures and have adapted to living as sessile animals partially embedded in fine sediments on the sea floor. They range in color from dark orange to yellow to white.
The primary polyp loses its tentacles and becomes the stalk of the Sea Pen with a bulb at the base. The secondary polyps form the branches of the Sea Pen. They are able to relocate and re-anchor themselves if need be. They feed on the plankton that goes by on the currents. As a defense against predators (like red stars), they force water out of themselves, deflating and retreating into their bulbous foot. If touched, they emit a bright greenish light.
Sources: NOAA, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Wikipedia.
I encourage you to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It’s unique and very special. They not only have beautiful exhibits, you can learn how they work towards the preservation and conservation of the ocean. Check out their website here.
Wow, a real feather of the sea! I like how the light filters through the sea pen . . . it’s glowing. Fascinating defensive/adaptive abilities . . . what I’ve always loved about biology. In this last visit, you saw a lot of new things, so now I want to get over there to see these too (and try out the new cafe that sounds so fabulous).