Sea Fans

© Jean Tresfon

Name

Sea Fans (Gorgonacea)

Alias

Gorgonians

Size

Sea fans can measure up to 5m.

Identification

The name ‘sea fan’ derives from the erect, flattened soft corals which branch to look similar to a fan. They are characterised by the manner in which they branch. Sea fans vary in colour but are predominantly red, yellow and orange.

General Info

Sea fans belong to the Gorgonacea order, which is one of the four orders of Octocorralia. This includes sea pens, soft corals and sea whips. Their skeletons differ in their horn-like appearance. Polyps have eight tentacles which look soft and furry when stretched out. Some species have zooanthellae which aid their food production. Pygmy seahorses and brittle stars often occur on sea fans. They reproduce by spawning.

Feeding

Sea fans feed on plankton.

Distribution

They can be found in all temperate and tropical oceans across the world.

Common Species

Giant fan coral (Anella mollis)
Sea fan (Acabaria sinaica)
Sinuous sea fan (Eunicella tricoronata)