Loch Goil sea squirt (Styela gelatinosa)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help



A solitary sea squirt with a cylindrical, pear-shaped body up to 4 cm tall. The body is constricted near the base and may have a short stalk.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Styela gelatinosa has only been recorded from Britain in recent years, although is well known from Scandinavian waters where it is recorded from depths of 100 to 1300 m (Millar, 1966; Holt & Davies, 1991).

Global distribution

Recorded from Svalbard, eastern Greenland, the Barents Sea, Iceland, The Faroes, all of the coast of Norway and in the Skaggerak.


Styela gelatinosa is characteristic of the biotope COS.Sty, which is only recorded from Loch Goil in the Clyde sea lochs. It most likely attaches to terrestrial debris (leaves, branches), shells and other hard substrata.

Depth range

65m and deeper

Identifying features

  • Cylindrical, pear-shaped or ovoid.
  • Narrow at the lower end, sometimes a short stalk.
  • Up to 4 cm long, occasionally more.
  • Dorsal tubercle horseshoe-shaped with open interval forward or to the left.
  • One gonad on each side, consisting of a long, slightly sinuous tubular ovary round at the lower end of which are grouped the testicular folds.

Additional information

In view of extensive studies undertaken by Allen (1953) in similar deep water habitats in the Clyde sealochs and Firth of Clyde but with no record of Styela gelatinosa made, it may have a very restricted distribution in Britain and may be an ice age relic. Styela gelatinosa is easily separated from Styela clava, which occurs in similar locations, by its upright habit and narrow base or slight stalk.


  1. Allen, J.A. 1953a. Observations on the epifauna of the deep-water muds of the Clyde Sea area, with special reference to Chlamys septemradiata (Müller). Journal of Animal Ecology, 22, 240-260.

  2. Holt, R. & Davies, M. 1991. Marine Nature Conservation Review. Surveys of Scottish sealochs: sealochs in the northern Firth of Clyde. (Contractor: University Marine Biological Station, Millport). , Peterborough, Nature Conservancy Council (CSD Report, No. 1147).

  3. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  4. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line] http://www.jncc.gov.uk/mermaid

  5. Millar, R.H., 1966. Tunicata Ascidiacea. Oslo, Universitetsforlaget.


  1. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from: https://www.nbnatlas.org.

  2. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2024-06-15


This review can be cited as:

Hiscock, K. & Pizzolla, P. 2002. Styela gelatinosa Loch Goil sea squirt. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 15-06-2024]. Available from: https://marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/1434

Last Updated: 13/11/2002