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Ascidia mentula

Müller, 1776


Erling Svensen Just found an old picture from Ireland. Dived with Bernard Picton. We had some really nice dives. Here also attached on Ascidia mentula.

Message posted on NE Atlantic Cnidaria on 07 Feb 2013
David Kipling This unitary squirt has very prominent lumps/spikes on the body and a scalloped edge round the siphon. ~ 18m deep, Skomer MNR Pembrokeshire. Could anyone suggest an ID? I've seen these lumpy siphon before but never the whole animal.

Wilfried Bay-Nouailhat It is Ascidia mentula

Message posted on NE Atlantic Tunicata on 05 Aug 2013
Becky Gill Does anyone know the type of sea squirt? It was taken near Fowey and I've also seen it at Porth Kerris.

David Kipling Thick cartilaginous test, slight reddish tinge, attached on side, white lobes on siphons (6 and 8-fold symmetry), siphons far apart, and encrusted with epibionts and crud. Ascidia mentula ;)

David Kipling You get more marks if you show your working ...

Becky Gill Brilliant. Thank you!

David Kipling The 8 teeth should be around the oral (inhalant) siphon on the end, I think this specimen is just stuck down in a weird fashion. More examples here: http://www.habitas.org.uk/marinelife/species.asp?item=ZD1500

David Kipling Dawn Watson can have a second go if she wants, there's didemnid squirts in this picture too.

Becky Gill Ooh, really? I'm trying to learn my squirts, so at a guess lissoclinum perforatum?

Message posted on Seasearch Cornwall on 12 Jun 2013
Kevin Jones Saw this in Lyme Bay, Dorset....can anyone advise me as to what it is, I am guessing its a sponge?

James Lynott I think that is a type of colonial sea squirt known as a Star Ascidian.

David Kipling Ring of ~ eight animals (white) around a common cloaca in the middle. Actually it's a sheet, but looks like a sponge lump here as it's growing over something and following the contours.

Kevin Jones David, should this animal actually be flat normally......rather than growing over something?

Martin Gray Didn't you find something like this, though in red, earlier this year Mary Harris

Sarah Bowen It comes in lots of different colours; it's the pattern that is distinctive. Mostly blue, yellow, cream, brown with contrast highlights. And it often grows over other things, so although it should be flat, often doesn't look it.

Star ascidian (Botryllus schlosseri

Kevin Jones many thanks everyone....can now add that to my Sea Search Observers list

David Kipling I like to see squirts on Seasearch forms ;)

James Lynott An example of B. schlosseri growing over another sea squirt. Can anyone advise on the ID of the other two solitary squirts? http://flic.kr/p/eJgRCu

David Kipling It's growing over Ascidia mentula. It has the oral siphon (water-in) at the top, and the atrial (water-out) siphon way down the side. Note the reddish colour on the test. The other one (a translucent, milky appearance a bit like Lalique glass) with a vague pinkish tinge and siphons closer together is Ascidia virginia. Virginia is always very clean, mentula is usually covered with stuff growing on it unless very young.

David Kipling You have nice Bot schloss here too, as well as patches of Diplosoma listerianum. Was this a relatively shallow location? http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlynott/9011126712/in/set-72157634053596577

James Lynott Thank you David for your help. Yes that was quite shallow, less than 10m.

David Kipling Thought so. D listerianum is usually small fragile transparent patches in shallow water (often on kelp), whereas you get the larger and coloured (white bits) D spongiforme in deeper water. Which boat were you using for this trip btw?

Wendy Northway will they suffocate the squirt on which they are growing?

David Kipling No :) The test of the solitary squirt is protective - thick and made of cellulose. All the important interactions with the outside world (water in/out for feeding and breathing, release of sperm/eggs/poo) takes place through the two siphons. So as long as they are clear the squirt is happy. In fact it's probably better protected with the epibiont coverage.

Wendy Northway so it won't grow over the siphons?

David Kipling It could try I suppose! The siphons are very sensitive and contractile, so I doubt it'd get a hold. Imagine the siphon filly closed and something does grow over ... when the siphon then expands by muscular action it'd rip a hole in whatever is above it. So the movement should keep it clean. The test is often rough deliberately to encourge epibiont coverage and thus camouflage and protection - some tropical squirts are always hidden except for siphons.

Wendy Northway thank you!

James Lynott We were originally supposed to be with creag ard charters but his boat had engine problems so they arranged for us to dive with Atlantic Dive Services which was great. Thanks for the IDs of the other colonial squirts as well!

Message posted on Seasearch Identifications on 12 Jun 2013
Erling Svensen A lot of Scyphistoma today on ascidiens...

Rachel Shucksmith thats nice Erling, I've never seen them stack up I was starting to think it was a myth!

Rebecca Helm aaaawwww <3

Rebecca Helm Strobilation in action! This is great to see in the wild. I'm not sure how many species have been documented to strobilate in the wild-- it would be great to get some ephyra from these guys and see what species it is.

Rebecca Helm Super cool!

Erling Svensen I have a feeling that it is the Aurelia aurita.

George Brown Fantastic Erling.

Rebecca Helm hey Erling Svensen-- do you mind if I write a small post about this on my blog (jellybiologist.com). If so, can you provide me with a bit more information on where you were, when and how deep? Thanks!

Erling Svensen Hi Rebecca. The picture is from South West Norway, yesterday, at 20 meters of seawater. The Scyphistoma was attached to the ascidien Ascidia mentula, and alot of this ascidiens had Scyphistoma on. I have also seen this and taken pictures of it in Ireland together with Bernard Picton. Water temperature was aprox. 3 degrees C. Please share it - I feel honored :-)

Cynthia D. Trowbridge So interesting to hear that the scyphistoma are on ascidians... wish we knew more about planulae substrate preferences. A student here (OIMB) is sequencing our locals ones. Usually Aurelia

Rebecca Helm Thanks so much for sharing! http://jellybiologist.com/2013/02/07/the-jellyfish-are-coming/

Wendy Northway just discovered schyphosta the end of last year! Blow me, just been to an aquarium and I noted loads of schyphista in the shark tank. (typical me however, much more interested in cnidarians than the sharks!) Thanks for sharing

Keith Hiscock And strobilating - something I have not seen in the frequent patches of Aurelia scyphistomae we get out of Plymouth.

George Brown In the UK are there other species producing scyphistoma similar to Aurelia? Or are they all Aurelia? Are there any ID features we should be looking out for? Cheers.

Rebecca Helm Hey George-- I'd love to know if there are other species strobilating as well. Once the ephyra form it's possible to tell species apart. It's very hard to ID scyphopolyps without ephyra. If you have pics I could probably get you to the family level, but rarely species. If you're interested, this is a great key: "Identification key for young ephyrae: a first step for early detection of jellyfish blooms"

George Brown Thank you Rebecca, I'll check this out. Scyphistoma are everywhere right now.

Rebecca Helm Woohoo! George-- I'm sure I can speak for many of us in saying I'd love to see pics! Plus, for many Chrysaora species, polyps have never been identified in the wild, so you may get a pub out of your observations if you find a Chrysaora species :)

Keith Hiscock I can find lots of papers about scyphistomae of west Atlantic Chrysaora species but only one on our north-east Atlantic species Chrysaora isoceles: Delap, M. J., 1901. Notes on the rearing of Chrysaora isosceles in an aquarium. Irish Naturalist 10: 25"28. I recall John Gamble (deceased) telling we that he had found Chrysaora scyphistomae at the time that he was working in Loch Ewe.

Message posted on NE Atlantic Cnidaria on 06 Feb 2013
James Lynott Lots of squirts to be found in Loch Long last night. This photo was taken at about 20m and contains a number of different species. I hope I am right with the IDs of Ascidia virginea, Ascidia mentula, Corella parallelogramma, Ciona intestinalis, Polycarpa pomaria, and possibly Ascidiella scabra? I'm not sure of the cream coloured one to the right of the A. mentula either.

David Kipling Gosh, what a mix! I'd agree with you as far as I can see. The aspersa//scabra distinction is still one that's difficult for me (although I gather this has been a discussion for decades!) and there may actually be something of a species complex here if you talk to Bernard. Apparently there's a big difference in the number of guard hairs (so start looking down siphons if you can do that without them closing!) and also the eggs of one but not the other species float (yeah, right ...).

Message posted on NE Atlantic Tunicata on 28 Sep 2013
João Pedro Silva From yesterday's night dive in Sesimbra, Portugal. Maybe Ascidia mentula?

David Kipling Ascidia mentula (in my mind) has a more gelatinous test, as opposed to leathery. This reminds me more of something like a Polycarpa, although perhaps not with that amount of crud on it. As a left-field suggestion, how about Asterocarpa humilis (the non-native Compass Squirt) based on the stripey siphons....was this dive near a harbour or marina by any chance?

David Kipling Probably not this actually, stripes are a bit wild! http://www.ceab.csic.es/web/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Asterocarpa-humilis-4.jpg

João Pedro Silva This spot is about 2km away from Sesimbra's harbour and although the budy harbour of Setúbal is over 20km, ships pass relatively near.

David Kipling Hmmm, not exactly prime territory for a non-invasive. They tend to stick around the harbours/marinas (with the exception of Corella eumyota which seems to be very happy about spreading out onto local reefs!).

Message posted on NE Atlantic Tunicata on 11 May 2013
Rachel Shucksmith Does anybody have any idea what this squirt is, unfortunately it was fairly hidden in a crevice.

Erling Svensen I think Ascidia mentula.

Rachel Shucksmith thanks Erling

Bernard Picton Rachel, where did you take the photo?

Rachel Shucksmith Hi Bernard, in Shetland on an offshore skerry

Bernard Picton Possibly Polycarpa pomaria, but it doesn't usually have red tipped siphons like this.

David Kipling As an aside, which of the two species of disc bryozoan is that, Rachel?

Richard Yorke Let me see if I have really got them sorted, and I will say Plagioecia

Joanne Porter and I will agree with you Richard Yorke

Message posted on Seasearch Identifications on 08 Sep 2012
João Pedro Silva From yesterday's night dive in Sesimbra, Portugal. Maybe Ascidia mentula?

David Kipling Ascidia mentula (in my mind) has a more gelatinous test, as opposed to leathery. This reminds me more of something like a Polycarpa, although perhaps not with that amount of crud on it. As a left-field suggestion, how about Asterocarpa humilis (the non-native Compass Squirt) based on the stripey siphons....was this dive near a harbour or marina by any chance?

David Kipling Probably not this actually, stripes are a bit wild! http://www.ceab.csic.es/web/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Asterocarpa-humilis-4.jpg

João Pedro Silva This spot is about 2km away from Sesimbra's harbour and although the budy harbour of Setúbal is over 20km, ships pass relatively near.

David Kipling Hmmm, not exactly prime territory for a non-invasive. They tend to stick around the harbours/marinas (with the exception of Corella eumyota which seems to be very happy about spreading out onto local reefs!).

Message posted on NE Atlantic Tunicata on 11 May 2013
Taxonomy
Animalia (Kingdom)
  Chordata (Phylum)
    Tunicata (Subphylum)
      Ascidiacea (Class)
        Phlebobranchia (Order)
          Ascidiidae (Family)
            Ascidia (Genus)
              Ascidia mentula (Species)
Associated Species