Styela plicata   (Lesueur,  1823) (Sea Squirt)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Ascidiacea

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Size: Max. length 90 mm

Color: It is opaque and white to tan in color with broad brown stripes on the inside of the siphons, with the siphon openings occasionally red; orange, sandy.

It is a solitary ascidian that can occur singularly or in groups. The body is upright and oval with two short siphons. The branchial siphon is terminal and the atrial siphon antero-dorsal. Numerous large rounded lumps and deep grooves give it a "cobblestone" appearance. The body surface is almost naked, lacking spines and other appendages.

It is a protandric hermaphrodite: initially male then later in life becomes female. This allows self fertilization to be avoided. Fertilization is external, with eggs and sperm shed into the water column in the late afternoon, larvae hatching the following morning and settling during that day.

The species has a life span of <1 year but undergoes rapid maturation.

It can withstand some pollution and brackish waters and tolerates great fluctuations in salinity.

Synonym (s)
Ascidia cuviera Delle Chiaje, 1841
Ascidia cuvieri Delle Chiaje, 1841
Ascidia patata Costa, 1844
Ascidia phusca Delle Chiaje, 1828
Styela pinguis Herdman, 1899
Ascidia plicata Lesueur, 1823
Styela gyrosa Heller, 1877
Phallusia sulcata Delle Chiaje, 1841
Styela pinguis Herdman, 1898
Tethyum plicatum (Lesueur, 1823)

Common Name (s)
Economic Importance and Threats

Habitat:  Demersal, Estuarine, Rocky, Coastal
Trophic Level:  Consumer
Prey:  Phytoplankton, zooplankton and organic materials
Predator:  Juveniles are probably consumed by snails, crustaceans, sea stars and fish


• Kerala, Vizhinjam Bay INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Tuticorin Harbour INDIA
• Kerala, Vizhinjam Harbour INDIA

Literature Source(s)
  • Abdul, JAH and Sivakumar, V (2007) Occurrence and distribution of ascidians in Vizhinjam Bay (south west coast of India) Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 342(1) 189-190 Available at -
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at -
  • Sealifebase Available at -
  • Hewitt, CL; Martin, RB; Sliwa, C; McEnnulty, FR; Murphy, NE; Jones, T and Cooper, S (Eds.) (2002) National Introduced Marine Pest Information System Available at -
  • Available at -
  • Meenakshi, VK; Renganathan, TK; Senthamarai, S and Jeyalakshmi, J (2003) Marine biodiversity - Taxonomy of Indian Ascidians Technical report Available at - Biodiversity Informatics Group, NIO, Goa

Page last updated on:2011-02-22

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