Pyura gibbosa species complex

Pyura gibbosa / australis

Size: 12 cm excluding stalk

Distribution: All SA coastal and gulf waters

Habitat: Seagrass beds, jetty pylons and sandy areas

Depth: Lower intertidal to 10+ metres

Pyura gibbosa / australis

Pyura gibbosa and Pyura australis are both stalked ascidians in the family Pyuridae, and are very difficult to distinguish without microscopic examination. These solitary ascidians can be distinguished by their long leathery stalk (although this isn't always present) and their siphons, which point in opposite directions. They are similar to Pyura spinifera, although this is less common in SA waters, but that species has more distinct bulbous nodules, and is usually almost completely covered by a commensual encrusting sponge, where P. gibbosa and australis are mostly free of epiphytic organisms.