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Muricea pinnata Bayer, 1961

Common Name(s): Long-spine sea fan
Colony Form: Branched pinnately in one plane, but older colonies somewhat bushy; to 45 cm tall.
Axis: Present.
Branches: End branches stiff, short, widely spaced, 2.5-3.0 mm in diameter; slightly curved and arising from main stems at angle of 40-45.
Apertures: Small, well spaced (not crowded), prominent, with pointed lower lip bearing sharp spine, directed upward toward branch tip.
Mucus: None.
Color: Whitish. light gray or yellowish-brown; dries dries white or tan.
Sclerites: Outer layer and calices: spindles long and slender, finely spinose on outer surface, with tubercles on inner surface, to 2.0 mm long; calice spindles have short terminal spike. Inner layer: small 8-rayed capstans (double stars) ~0.1 mm long; some more elongated and rod-like, to 0.15 mm long, with two whorls of spines.
Habitat: Moderate to deep forereefs.
Distribution: Bermuda, Bahamas, South Florida, West Indies.
Notes: Similar to Muricea pendula but distinguished by pale color; in M. pendula, the large pointed sclerites of calices lack a terminal spike, inner sclerites are larger and end branches thicker.
Reference(s): Bayer (1961), Humann and DeLoach (2002).
Similar species:

Muricea pendula