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Nematoflustra flagellata (Waters, 1904)

provided by British Antarctic Survey

Description

Orange/brown in colour. This species forms long (up to 20cm) and branching sheet-like fronds. These are curled and have very distinctive long ‘hairs’ called vibracula over its entire inside surface. These move up and down to clear debris and possibly small predators away from its feeding tentacles. Deep-water specimens (100m+) are stringier and less branched.

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Species details

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Species distribution

35m to deep water, on hard and soft substrates inside the Polar Frontal zone (so not Subantarctic islands) from South Georgia through to Antarctic continental waters.

N. flagellata is an extremely distinctive endemic Antarctic species. It (suspension) feeds most of the year round, pausing for just three months mid-winter, and may live decades. The banding seen sometimes are areas of reproductive activity, not growth lines. The non-active surface is frequently covered with encrusting animals such as other bryozoans or polychaete worms.
The main observed predators of N. flagellata are nudibranch sea slugs, some small grazing gastropods and pycnogonans.

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