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the web of life in southern Africa

Genus: Pyrosoma

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Tunicata > Thaliacea > Pyrosomatida > Family: Pyrosomatidae

Pyrosoma sp.  [photos CL Griffiths ]

Four species worldwide, all of which have wide pelagic distributions that include, or are likely to include, southern African seas.

Species native to southern Africa

Information from World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS).

Pyrosoma aherniosum   

Widely distributed in warm water of all oceans, from 30N to 30S. Recorded from southern African waters.


Pyrosoma atlanticum

Regarded as the most widely spread and common pyrosomatid occurring in all oceans from 50N to 50S.


Pyrosoma godeauxi

Recorded from the northern Mozambique channel. No records from southern African seas but distribution probably does extend into this region via the Mozambique current. 


Pyrosoma ovatum

Recorded from the mid-South Atlantic and from the seas off India (van Soest 1981) but probably occurs in the waters inbetween, including southern African waters.



  • Deibel D., and Lowen B. 2011. A review of the life cycles and life-history adaptations of pelagic tunicates to environmental conditions. ICES Journal of Marine Science, doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsr159.
  • Lazarus, B. I. and D. Dowler. 1979. Pelagic tunicata off the west and south-west coasts of South Africa, 1964-1965. Fish. Bull. S. Afr. 12:93-119.
  • Van Zyl, R. P. 1960. A preliminary study of the salps and doliolids off the west and south coasts of South Africa. Investigational Rept. Div. Fisheries, Union of South Africa. v.40, 31p.

Text by Hamish Robertson