56 photos - 34 species


Soft corals grow finger-shaped, branched, lobed, encrusting or tree-shaped.

In contrast to stony corals, soft corals do not have a solid calcareous skeleton,

but have small calcareous needles in their bodies as reinforcing elements.

Occurrence: Worldwide in all seas, but most species live in the warm,

tropical seas in shallow water.

A - Z

Anthelia glauca

Soft coral

It has a long stem of about 5 - 10 cm and arises from a base plate.

Long feathery tentacles.

Inhabits deep reefs with moderate currents up to 30 metres deep.

Photo 1 Johnny: Hurghada Egypt

Antillogorgia americana

Slimy sea lume

 Size: 100 - 150 cm

Depth: 1 - 68 m

It forms large colonies.

They consist of long, flattened, pointed branches with a diameter of 1.5 to 2.5 mm.

Colour: Purple to violet, occasionally pale yellow.

This gorgonian inhabits almost all reef environments.

It produces abundant mucus.

Photos 1 - 3 Johnny: Bonaire Caribbean

Briareum asbestinum

Corky sea finger

Size. 30 cm

Depth: 1 - 55 m

Commonly known as the cork sea finger.

It inhabits coral reefs and rocky bottoms in the Caribbean.

Photo 1 Johnny: Bonaire Caribbean

Cerianthus filiformis

Tube anemone or Large tube anemone

The cylinder roses do not live in the coral reef,

because they do not share the habitat with corals,

they can be seen in seagrass meadows or on sand down

to a depth of 50 metres.

Photo 1 Johnny: Bangka Island North - Sulawesi

Photos 2 - 4 Johnny: Lembeh Strait North - Sulawesi

Photo 5 Johnny: Bali Indonesia

Cerianthus sp. 1

Cerianthus sp 1

At first glance, cylindrical anemones resemble sea anemones,

but they are very different from them.

Their body is cylindrical and very long.

The specimen shown here is just opening and has not yet fully extended its tentacles.

Photo 1 Johnny: Bali Indonesia

Cerianthus sp. 2

Cerianthus sp 2

The lower end of the cylinder rose is not flattened like the foot of a sea anemone,

with which it anchors itself to the solid soil substrate, but tubular and slender.

The rose buries this foot in the muddy soil.

It is stuck in a tube that the rose has built itself.

If the tentacles are stimulated, the rose retracts into the tube with a jerk.

Photo 1 Johnny: Lembeh Strait North - Sulawesi

Cerianthus sp. 3

Cerianthus sp 3

Idem as above

Photos 1 - 4 Johnny: Lembeh Strait North - Sulawesi

Cerianthus sp. 4

Cerianthus sp 4

Tube Ø 10 cm

Depth: 1 - 40 m

Very many tentacles, living on sand and on the muddy bottom of lagoons.

The flexible mucus tube consists of adhesive threads.

The tentacles are used as glue rods for catching small invertebrates.

Photo 1 Johnny: Hurghada Egypt

Cirrhipathes spiralis

Whip coral, Spiral wire coral, Corkscrew whip coral

Up to 2 metres long.

They live on current-rich, steep reef slopes with plateaus at a depth of 10 - 60 metres.

Host for shrimps and gobies.

Photo 1 Johnny: Hurghada Egypt

Dendronephthya hemprichi

Red soft tree coral

Maximum size : 70 cm

This species is a particularly colourful soft coral.

As is usual with soft corals, it also has various chemical defence substances stored in its tissue, which have a deterrent or even poisonous effect on potential predators.

Photos 1 - 2 Johnny: Hurghada Egypt

Dendronephthya klunzingeri

Red cauliflower

Their stem base is thick with numerous branches.

They are nocturnal plankton catchers and can reach a size of up to 1 metre.

Photos 1 - 3 Johnny: Bali Indonesia

Dendronephthya sp.

Dendronephthya sp.

This species often grows on an outer reef wall at depths below 20 metres,

preferably in places with strong currents. Usually relatively small ( 20 cm )

although some species can reach up to 2 metres.

Photos 1 - 2 Johnny: Bali Indonesia

Eunicea fusca

Gorgonian or Doughnut sea rod

 Size: 30 - 50 cm

Depth: 3 - 30 m

Ochre-coloured to black-grey and brown polyps.

It lives in the Caribbean in sheltered reef areas with medium wave action.

The tips of the branches are sometimes slightly bulbous, the branches themselves are quite slender with a diameter of 2.5 - 3.5 mm.

Photo 1 Johnny: Bonaire Caribbean

Eusmilia fastigiata

Eusmilia fastigiata

Size: 15 - 75 cm.

Depth 1 - 60 m

Polyps are widely spaced and form hemispherical colonies.

Their corallites are round to oval.

Colour variations: Yellow-brown to brown, green, blue-green, grey.

It only stretches out its tentacles at night.

Photo 1 Johnny: Bonaire Caribbean

Photo 2 Johnny: Bonaire Hurghada

Gorgonia ventalina

Common sea fan, Purple sea fan or Caribbean sea fan

 Size: 60 - 180 cm

Depth: 1 - 30 m

Colonies form large fans that grow in a plane. They consist of closely interwoven

branches that are slightly flattened or round.

Photo 1 Johnny: Bonaire Caribbean

Heterogorgia uatumani


 Size: 15 - 90 cm.

Depth 22 - 45 m

Usually in one level, strongly branched, often fan-shaped colonies.

Bright yellow to golden yellow polyps.

Branches rather yellowish to yellow-brown or brown.

Photo 1 Johnny: Bonaire Caribbean

Junceella juncea

Junceella juncea

Depth 30 - 60 m

Up to 60 cm high 

Red rods.

Loves terraces and plateaus where strong currents prevail.

Photo 1 Johnny: Hurghada Egypt

Litophyton arboreum

Broccoli coral

Small tree - to bush-like.

Short, smooth trunk branches out into many side branches, with thin terminal branches.

Photos 1 - 2 Johnny: Hurghada Egypt

Macrorhynchia philippina

White-smoky-feathered hydroid or Stinging hydroid

Maximum length ( branches ) 30 cm

Lives on dead corals and rubble at a depth of 0.5 - 20 metres.

Catches microplankton.

Very nettle-like, can cause allergic reactions with circulatory collapse.

Photo 1 Bangka Island North Sulawesi

Photo 2 Johnny: Embudu Maldives

Pachyrhynchia cupressina

Pachyrhynchia cupressina

Maximum length: 40 cm

Yellowish to brownish in colour, often found en masse on the reef.

Photo 1 Johnny: Bangka Island North Sulawesi

Plerogyra sinuosa

Bubble coral

Polyps with long, bubble-shaped tentacles.

Often colonises murky places on sheltered slopes, at a depth of 10 - 45 m.

Photo 1 Johnny: El Quesir Egypt

Plexaura homomalla

Black sea rod

 Size: 15 - 60 cm

Depth: 1 - 60 m

Quite bushy colonies that grow in flat, vertical areas.

Photo 1 Astrid: Bonaire Caribbean

Photos 2 - 3 Johnny: Bonaire Caribbean

Plexaurella nutans

Giant slit-pore rod

Size: 130 cm

Depth: 1 - 55 m

This is a large species of soft coral from the Plexauridae family.

It is a relatively rare species and is found in shallow seas in the Caribbean.

Photo 1 Johnny: Bonaire Caribbean

Plexaurella sp.

Plexaura sp.

 I can't write much about size and depth as I didn't get any data on this species of gorgonian.

Biologists only gave me the name sp.

A positive identification requires a microscopic examination.

Photo 1 Johnny: Bonaire Caribbean

Pseudoplexaura porosa

Porous sea rod

 Size: Up to a height of 2.25 m

Depth: 3 - 6 m, but has also been found at depths of up to 280 m.

The colony is tree-like, upright and relatively robust. It grows from a trunk that can be 5 cm thick and branches dichotomously. Smooth branches whose tips are soft and slimy.

The branches are flexible and sway with the movement of the water.

Photos 1 - 2 Johnny: Bonaire Caribbean

Pseudoplexaura sp.


 Size: 15 - 210 cm.

Depth 1 - 75 m

When the polyps are retracted, this species can be recognised

by the round to olive pores, the edges of which are not thickened.

Colour variations: light to yellow-brown, brown, grey, reddish purple or purple.

Photo 1 Johnny: Bonaire Caribbean

Pseudopterogorgia sp. 1


 Size: 30 - 210 cm

Depth: 1 - 54 m

Bushy bunches with large feathery fronds are typical of this genus.

The branches are usually purple to grey, sometimes light, pale yellow or greyish.

Photos 1 - 3 Johnny: Bonaire Caribbean

Sarcophyton sp.3

Lether coral

This species is very robust, as their habitat is mostly in the shallow water zone,

where they sometimes fall dry or are exposed to hot sun rays. 

Photo 1 Johnny: Embudu Maldives

Sarcophyton glaucum

Leather soft-mushroom

Inhabits outer reefs, reef tops and lagoons down to a depth of 25 metres.

Eaten by the ovula ovum.

Photo 1 Johnny: Hurghada Egypt

Tubastraea coccinea

Orange cup coral

Size: up to 5 cm

Depth: 1 - 37 m

They like a gentle current that drives the food towards them.

They are never found in places where there are strong currents as they suffer tissue damage.

Photo 1 Astrid: Bonaire Caribbean

Tubastraea faulkneri

Orange cup coral

In shallow water in shady places and caves.

Their polyps are yellow-orange, their tentacles pale yellow.

Photo 1 Johnny: Bali Indonesia

Tubastraea micranthus ( Schwarze Kelchkoralle)

Black tube coral or Black sun coral

Colonies aligned crosswise to the current, which are upright

and branched and can reach a diameter of up to 1 metre.

Photos 1 - 2 Johnny: Hurghada Egypt

Xenia sansibariana

Pulse coral or Pulsing Soft coral

They occur at depths of 5 - 20 metres.

Their feathery tentacles pulsate constantly.

They are relatively small, but can cover several square metres of reef surface

when they settle side by side.

Photo 1 Johnny: Bali Indonesia

Xenia umbellata

White pulse coral or Pulsing xenia

This species grows like a lawn.

Its tentacles open up to 40 times per minute.

Photo 1 Johnny: Hurghada Egypt