Palmiskenea skenei is an erect bryozoan that develops rigid three-dimensional structures. Initially, colonies grow as an encrusting sheet, before developing into the erect form which is composed of two layers of autozooids arranged “back-to-back”. Colonies can grow up to 30 mm high and branch dichotomously at irregular intervals. The branches are flattened, broadening at the tip and occasionally fusing. The colony is light yellow or reddish in colour.
Autozooids are oval to rectangular or hexagonal. They range in size from 0.7 mm by 0.3-0.4 mm and are thickly calcified. As the colony grows, the basal encrusting sheet and lowermost regions of the erect portion become considerably thickened by continued calcification giving the colony surface a flat appearance, compared to the more bristly appearance of the distal regions of the colony.
Palmiskenea skenei is a boreal-arctic species occurring off all British coasts, although it is most common off Scotland and Shetland. To the south, the species reaches the Bay of Biscay, but does no extend into the Mediterranean.
The species is able to colonise hard substrates in offshore waters, below the kelp zone down to at least the edge of the continental shelf.