Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology/Natural History: This species is hermaphroditic. Fertilization is external, during the summer. The tunic is thin but tough, with 12.4% organic content. Just over half the organic matter in the tunic is tunicin (a carbohydrate); the rest is protein. Vanadium content of the body is low (but higher in the tunic?) Predators include the seastar Orthasterias koehleri. The copepod Pygodelphys aquilonarius may live symbiotically in the branchial chamber and many invertebrates may live around the base.
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Source: Invertebrates of the Salish Sea

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This solitary, unstalked tunicate has a smooth, shiny, pinkish-red opaque tunic which often looks pearly. The shape is often approximately heispherical. Tunic is white when the animal is very small. Siphons are far apart and prominent in a relaxed animal (can be more prominent than seen in the photo above). When fully retracted the siphons look like small crosses. Usually less than 3 cm across base though can get up to 5 cm, and up to 2.5 cm high.
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Source: Invertebrates of the Salish Sea

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Distribution

Geographical Range: Alaska to Point Conception, CA; most common from Washington north. Also northwestern Pacific, circumboreal in the Arctic

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© Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory

Source: Invertebrates of the Salish Sea

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Physical Description

Look Alikes

How to Distinguish from Similar Species: Other tunicates of similar shape are not usually pinkish-red, or have a wrinkled tunic. The sea peach, Halocynthia aurantia, is a similar smooth, shiny pinkish color but it has broader siphons of unequal size and is taller than it is wide. Of other common local smooth, orange tunicates, Metandrocarpa taylori is a social ascidian, with multiple individuals living near each other and connected by narrow stolons or sheets of tunic. Distaplia occidentalis is a compound ascidian with many individuals within the same tunic.
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© Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory

Source: Invertebrates of the Salish Sea

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Ecology

Habitat

Depth range based on 22 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 20 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 400.91
  Temperature range (°C): 1.723 - 10.151
  Nitrate (umol/L): 6.725 - 38.262
  Salinity (PPS): 31.893 - 34.164
  Oxygen (ml/l): 0.790 - 6.561
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.931 - 2.962
  Silicate (umol/l): 8.471 - 67.806

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 400.91

Temperature range (°C): 1.723 - 10.151

Nitrate (umol/L): 6.725 - 38.262

Salinity (PPS): 31.893 - 34.164

Oxygen (ml/l): 0.790 - 6.561

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.931 - 2.962

Silicate (umol/l): 8.471 - 67.806
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Depth Range: Very low intertidal to at least 50 m (540 m in Japan)

Habitat: Hard substrates in well-circulated waters. Sometimes found on floats. Sometimes lives in holes.

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Source: Invertebrates of the Salish Sea

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