Underwater Photos

Gorgonian (Subclass: Octocorallia)
A Gorgonian is a soft coral which does not possess the hard exoskeleton of the stoney corals. These are even more difficult to identify than their stoney cousins. Only a microscopic laboratory examination can definitively identify the many species. From the photo, though, it is clear that this example is in the subclass Octocorallia since each polyp has eight tentacles. The gorgonians appear as long waving rods, fan-like, or even shrub-like and thrive in areas where they get sufficient flow of water to supply nutrients. The photo is a macro shot, which, on your screen shows the polyps at several times life size. The tentacles are visible to the naked eye, but are quite small.

Revised: 24 March 1999