Distaplia occidentalis

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Mushroom compound tunicate:
Mushroom compound tunicate (Distaplia occidentalis): A pretty colonial tunicate. According to Lambert & Sanamyan 2001, its color varies from lavender to dark purple, and is sometimes yellow, orange, or tan. One species to keep an eye out for is Distaplia alaskensis, described from Prince William Sound in 2001. Where a colony of D. occidentalis is shaped like a mushroom, a typical colony of D. alaskensis is shaped like a cone. On a microscopic level, D. occidentalis has fewer than 20 stigmata per half-row, whereas D. alaskensis has more than 20 stigmata per half-row [of pharyngeal wall] (again, from Lambert & Sanamyan 2001). This species is also reported to form encrusting colonies. It does not become encrusted with sand.

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