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Sinuous_sea_fan.JPG Nippled_sea_ fan.JPG  Multicoloured sea fan_0.jpg
Sinuous sea fan
(Eunicella tricornata)
Nippled sea fan
(Eunicella papillosa)
Multicoloured sea fan
(Acabaria rubra)
Multicoloured sea fan
(Acabaria rubra)
 Palmate_Sea_ Fan.JPG flagellar_seafan.JPG Finger_ sea_ fan.JPG   
 Palmate sea fan
(Leptogorgia palma)
Flagellar sea fan
(Eunicella albicans)
Finger sea fan
(Homophyton verrucosum)
 Singularis sea fan
(Eunicella singularis)
Antler sea fan
(Clathraria rubrinodis)

Link : Seafans of the Eastern Cape

A gorgonian, also known as sea whip or sea fan, is an order of sessile colonial cnidarian found throughout the oceans of the world, especially in the tropics and subtropics. Gorgonians are similar to the sea pen, another soft coral. Individual tiny polyps form colonies that are normally erect, flattened, branching, and reminiscent of a fan. Others may be whiplike, bushy, or even encrusting. A colony can be several feet high and across but only a few inches thick. They may be brightly coloured, often purple, red, or yellow. Photosynthetic gorgonians can be successfully kept in captive reef aquariums

The structure of a gorgonian colony varies. The suborder Holaxonia skeletons are formed from a flexible, horny substance called gorgonin. The suborder Scleraxonia variety of gorgonians are supported by a skeleton of tightly grouped calcareous spicules. There are also species which encrust like coral.Most of holaxonia and sclerazonia, however, do not attach themselves to a hard substrate. Instead, they anchor themselves in mud or sand.

Each gorgonian polyp has eight tentacles which catch plankton and particulate matter that is consumed. This process, called filter feeding, is facilitated when the "fan" is oriented across the prevailing current to maximise water throughout and hence food supply.

Some gorgonians contain algae, or zooxanthellae. This symbiotic relationship assists in giving the gorgonian nutrition via photosynthesis. Gorgonians possessing zooxanthellae are usually characterized by brownish polyps. Those without zooxanthellae usually have more brightly colored polyps. Lacking this additional nutrition, they are more dependent on the nutrition they derive from filter feeding.

Gorgonians are found primarily in shallow waters, though some have been found at depths of several thousand feet.The size, shape, and appearance of the gorgonians are highly correlated with their location. The more fan-shaped and flexible gorgonians tend to populate shallower areas with strong currents, while the taller, thinner, and stiffer gorgonians can be found in deeper, calmer waters.

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