Sea pens | Oceana Canada

Canadian Marine Life Encyclopedia

Sea pens

Penatulacea

Distribution

Range depends on species, some are circumglobal while others are more restricted

Écosystèmes/habitats

Sandy or muddy bottoms

Feeding Habits

Filter feeder

Conservation Status

Not listed

Taxonomie

Class Anthozoa (corals, anemones & relatives); Order Pennatulacea (sea pens)

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Sea pens are colonial corals. Like their relatives, sea pens are made up of a colony of several polyps (individual animals). What makes them unique among colonial corals is that each polyp is specialized to perform specific functions. One of their polyps develops into a rigid, erect stalk, which anchors the rest of the colony to the ocean floor. This gives many sea pens an appearance similar to a large feather or old-fashioned quill pen, which is how they got their name.

Sea pens are not targeted by any fisheries; however they can be damaged or killed by bottom-contacting gears, like dredges, bottom trawls, bottom gillnets and bottom longlines. Sea pens can also be damaged or killed by ghost fishing gear, which is gear that has been lost or forgotten in the ocean and continues to cause harm to marine life.