Pennatula reniformis Pallas, 1766:374.
Remarks. This species is easily
recognizable as the only leaf-shaped octocorallian in the shallow
South Atlantic Bight, and is well described by its familiar name,
“sea pansy”. The frond (oozooid) is approximately
as wide as it is long, with polyps (autozooids and siphonozooids)
restricted to the upper surface. Sclerites are in the form of three
flanged rods, which are longer in the frond than in the stalk. The
color of the colonies includes varying shades of rose and purple.
Renilla reniformis is distinguishable from its southern
tropical counterpart, R. mülleri, by the shape of the
frond, which is not conspicuously wider than long, and by the sclerites
of the stalk, which are shorter than those in the rachis. Both species
can vary in intensity of color. Colonies can be found in intertidal
systems and tidal creeks, as well as deeper marine habitats with
soft sediment. The species is well known for its ability to bioluminesce.
There are numerous lots of this species in the NMNH from
the shallow SAB.
Atlantic distribution: North Carolina to Brazil,
Caribbean, 1-72 m (Deichmann, 1936; Bayer, 1961; NMNH collections;
Figure 1. Renilla reniformis , live specimen (S427), whole
colony (approximately 22 mm in diameter).
Figure 2. Renilla reniformis frond with