sea fan

sea fan


Sea fan—Douglas Faulkner

Any of about 500 coral species (genus Gorgonia) especially abundant in shallow waters along the Atlantic coasts of Florida, Bermuda, and the West Indies. Polyps grow colonially in a flat, fanlike pattern. Each polyp has some multiple of six tentacles, which it spreads out to form a plankton-catching net. An internal skeleton supports all branches of the colony. The living tissues (often red, yellow, or orange) entirely cover the skeleton. The fan-shaped colonies usually grow across the current, increasing their ability to ensnare prey. All species grow to about 2 ft (60 cm) high.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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