Escharella abyssicola (Norman, 1869)

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Escharella abyssicola may be confused with Escharella laqueata which is a similar size and also heavily calcified, but has a flatter frontal surface and large distinct pores around the autozooid margin which E. abyssicola lacks. The geographical range of the two species overlaps and they are often found in association with one another.


Escharella abyssicola is an encrusting bryozoan that forms extensive irregular sheet-like colonies. The colonies are white in colour with autozooids that are easily visible to the naked eye. Autozooids are oval to hexagonal, often sharply tapering at the proximal end (closest to the colony origin). They are large, ranging from 0.8-1.3 mm by 0.4-0.7 mm and have two to three short thick spines. Autozooids are heavily calcified on the frontal surface.


Records come from the boreal-Arctic zone as far south as west Norway and Shetland. It is known from the Bay of Biscay in deep cold water, just off the edge of the continental shelf.


The species is able to colonise hard substrates and is often found on stone, mollusc shells and Polychaete tubes. Escharella abyssicola is a deep-water species that occurs in offshore waters, well below the kelp zone to the continental slope and beyond. Its lower bathymetric limit is not known, but is at least 350 m.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith