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Styela clava

Herdman, 1881

Sarah Bowen Can anyone help with this? Found on the Blackwater in Essex, in a silty, muddy environment at about 6m and growing as tufts on top of Styela clava.

Jon Moore Looks like Anguinella palmata, but a bit more branched than the specimens I have seen before, and looks as if there is something else growing on it.

Sarah Bowen Yes I know what you mean about something growing on it; but it was so even and consistent I then discounted that as an option. Hmmmm.....

Sarah Bowen Have now checked, thanks Jon, it certainly looks like it and has been recorded on the Blackwater. And the white blob is a bit of a didemnid; they were everywhere!

Marco Faasse It certainly looks like Anguinella palmata as I know it. Nothing unusual about the colony.

Liz Morris Looks like Anguinella palmata to me too. Very distinctive!

Message posted on Seasearch Identifications on 14 Aug 2012
Tony Gilbert I think this is the leathery sea squirt invasive species Didemnum vexillum. The source material I used (images from CCW on NNSS website) point strongly to it, and not similar native UK species - that are shown on Habitas / Bernard Picton . As with these types of IDs it is always best to seek several opinions before submitting a record! This was not found near any harbours or areas like this. It was located along a reef some 30m away from the wreck of the Thesis in the Sound of Mull. If it is the invasive species, then perhaps it's come from divers or from the numerous ferries and other craft that ply the waters perhaps?

Becky Hitchin D. vex is actually the carpet sea squirt, Styela clava is the leathery one ;) But ... to me that doesn't look like D. vex, but I'm more used to seeing it above water.

Becky Hitchin oops. to continue! There don't seem to be the water channels that characterise Dv, and the colour looks sort of wrong, though we're realising how variable the colour can be. The best way to really tell would be to get a sample and send it to John Bishop or Rohan Holt.

Tony Gilbert Apologies, meant carpet. Tricky to get hold of physical sample now unless I return to Mull :-) but thanks anyway.

Becky Hitchin :P I don't *think* it's D. vex, more maybe another Didemnum species. But saying that, D. vex is proving rather variable among outbreaks. Rohan Holt, what do you think?

Message posted on Seasearch Identifications on 12 Jun 2012
Martin Pratt Is this a squirt or a sponge? Seen off Beesands, Devon in 20m depth on rock. Suggestions of ID appreciated.

Liz Morris Looks like a silted Diplosoma listerianum type didemnidy squirt to me, but i'm sure someone else will have a better answer!!

Martin Pratt Thanks Liz for hint. Lookinging in Encyl Marine Life I am more inclined to go with Diplosoma spongiforme because of colour and pores on the surface.

David Kipling Yup Diplosoma spongiforme. D lit is think transparent sheet and usually in shallows, D sponge a bit deeper and this more sponge-like overall growth pattern.

David Kipling Here's some pics of both: http://www.mer-littoral.org/32/photo-diplosoma-listerianum-wb.php?photo=1

David Kipling http://www.mer-littoral.org/32/diplosoma-spongiforme.php

David Kipling Not easy and I must admit I'd feel a lot happier with these IDs if I'd looked at zooids or whatever you're supposed to look at to really tell them apart. Then we could make a more definite photo album of the two forms species.

Martin Pratt Thanks all for help. What caught my eye with this one was that it formed a rather phallic looking tube that was wafting around in the current. I assume that the squirt was wrapped around a strand of something else. See bottom of my picture.

David Kipling Yes, we spent a lot of time last week watching this stuff wrapped around hydroid stems, Styela clava, and feather worm tubes sticking out of the silt. It's really soft and delicate and needs something to grow over, so something sticking out like that is great, keeps it out of the silt.

Message posted on NE Atlantic Tunicata on 15 Aug 2012
Rob Spray Overdue short edit of the dive around the oyster raft to check out the site before the survey... lots of weed and squirts!

Pamela Stephens Facebook This is just a message to say how very nice it was to see you both on Dawn's birthday. I was wrong about the broadcast in the morning - the comic thing was part of woman's hour. It was just by accident I chose this e-mail of yours to reply to. I wanted to report that we signed a petition about the protection of some of the Suffolk coast to be presented next year. I have doubts about my computer skills so I won't write too much. Love M xxx

Jens Christensen Hi Rob. Interesting construction, and video. How long has it been sitting in the water, and what camera did You use for this video?

Jens Christensen Seems to be a lot of Sargassum muticum on the mooring of the construction. Is it as abundant on the Seefloor?

Rob Spray I'd guess this raft was 5+ years old but may be recovered for maintenance annually so its true age might be hard to establish. This was filmed using a Canon HF200 HD camcorder. The seafloor can be seen in the part 2 and 3 videos. Some sargassum down there but not very much.

David Kipling Very squirty, as you say! Floating man-made structures seem perfect for them - clean surface for planktonic larvae to settle on, little by way of predation being raised up off the seabed (although I notice a crab or two had swum onto it!), and being designed for oysters presumably stuck somewhere with a nice gentle current to keep them fed. Loads of Styela clava. At about 4 min in there is a good shot of a colonial ascidian (I assume, unless it's a dripping sponge of some form) with a rather worryingly pendulous growth habit. What is it? It reminds me of the pictures of Didemnum vexillum I've seen (eeek!). http://www.marlin.ac.uk/PDF/Aliens_2.pdf

David Kipling Indeed - so what does Rohan Holt think it is?

Rob Spray a Diplosoma... no full guess :-(

Message posted on Seaweed East 11 on 01 Sep 2011
Joanne Porter It has a leathery look about but I'm not convinced of it being Styela clava as it doesn't have the stalk. It also has distinctive red spots on the test.

Message posted on Seasearch Identifications on 09 Sep 2012
Becky Hitchin Styela clava siphons

Message posted on NE Atlantic Tunicata on 22 Jul 2012
Andy Horton ID query received: “Was scrubbing bottom of boat, scraped off huge clusters of what seemed to be egg sacs (numbering in the hundreds), semi translucent, some sort of embryo (orangey colour, shape indistinct) moving gently inside. Each sac approx 7cm long, approx 4cm across, gelatinous and fluid filled. Can't find any photos that resemble what I saw - wondered whether they were jelly fish eggs, or some sort of fish?” Location: Blackwater Estuary, Essex

David Fenwick Snr Sea squirts?

Peter Richardson Squid eggs?

Mickey Luv sounds like sea squirts to me...

Jon Chamberlain Would be interested to see a picture if they have one as this is my neck of the woods (or I'd be happy to go and have a look if they still have them). The size and colour sounds like Styela clava (squirt) as there were plenty there when we surveyed the Blackwater last year. But perhaps before anything else gets a chance to grow on it so it looks more smooth. The twitching embryo sounds most like a gut of a squirt if visible through the mantle. If only David Kipling would hurry up with his ID book...

David Kipling Semi-translucent would rule out Styela clava (it's leathery and opaque), but could be something like Ascidiella aspera or Corella eumyota. Their guts don't really move around inside though, whereas this sounds quite motile. 7cm x 4cm is big for those too. Ciona intestinalis is bigger though and once out of the water would look like eggs after the siphons have closed and certainly biofoul boat hulls.

David Kipling http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/species-of-the-day/biodiversity/alien-species/corella-eumyota/distribution-ecology/index.html This is a nice pic of a community of foul(ing) squirts out of the water and looking like eggs/

David Kipling And here's what happens when you don't keep your bottom clean and Ciona finds it ... http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/science/coe-cde/soto/img/m11.JPG

David Fenwick Snr I'm getting a boat!

Andy Horton My boat had a copper sheathed hull. No fouling.

Andy Horton cf. Squid eggs are likely to be found at this time of the year washed ashore http://www.glaucus.org.uk/squeggs.htm

David Kipling Squid eggs would fit better with the description of something moving inside (which squirts don't really do). I don't suppose there's any pictures?

Rob Spray The organisation for Squirt Trek '12 is underway. Survey central will be Sheringham Park as we has special permission to camp within the grounds. Facilities won't be luxurious but they will look as though they should be :-) We'll also access to a shore dive point between Weybourne and Sheringham which is only normally accessible via a very long walk! The event of the year runs 5-11th August (roughly)

Danny King What is squirt trek 12 ?????

David Kipling We're going to do some targeted work on sea squirts, given that so many of us struggle with them as a group and yet they are vital from a nuisance non-native perspective. Especially for those of you on the south and south-east coasts near to ports what might bring the little darlings in.

David Kipling A good illustration of this is the distribution of the (non-native) Styela clava, the leathery vase-like ascidian. Now most sea squirts in the UK are found along the west coast, up to NW scotland, and the south coast (loads of variations of course). Styela is really unusual because it has loads of records in the Thames estuary and adjacent coastline, I assume reflecting how it was introduced originally via boat traffic. This is shown very strikingly on the NBN distribution map for Styela clava; click thru onto some other random sea squirts and you'll see the difference. So it makes the east region of potential interest from a squirt monitoring perspective. http://data.nbn.org.uk/gridMap/gridMap.jsp?allDs=1&srchSpKey=NBNSYS0000178204

Becky Hitchin I'm going to ask around about this, we've got a good few naturalist type people who have been around for many years and have ridiculous amounts of field records

Rob Spray The short answer Danny King is that it is a week of surveys with a theme. Volunteers welcome - but we will be being quite nerdy.

Message posted on Seasearch East on 09 Jul 2012
Animalia (Kingdom)
  Chordata (Phylum)
    Tunicata (Subphylum)
      Ascidiacea (Class)
        Stolidobranchia (Order)
          Styelidae (Family)
            Styela (Genus)
              Styela clava (Species)
Associated Species