Bugula turbinata forms an erect, orange to brown, tufted colony approximately 1.25-2.5 in (3-6 cm) high. The branches are arranged spirally around the main axis. There are two proximal rows of zooids and three or four distal rows. Individual zooids are rectangular, narrowing slightly at the proximal end and bearing a single short spine at each corner of the distal end. The front of the zooid is almost entirely membranous. The polypide bears 13 tentacles. Short, plump avicularia originate just below the spines. These structures resemble birds' heads with rectangularly hooked beaks. Inner avicularia are smaller than marginal avicularia. Brood chambers (ooecia) are globular and conspicuous. Colonies are attached to the substratum by extensions of the basal zooids (rhizoids).
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