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Species guide

Violescent sea – whip

Scientific name: Paramuricea clavata

DESCRIPTION:

Violescent sea-whip has fan-shaped branches that give it the appearance of a bush, although it belongs to the animal kingdom. Gorgonian is a colony of individuals called polyps, which grow to form tree-like structures situated perpendicular to currents to ensure that all the members of the colony receive oxygen and food. These gorgonians are generally red, although it is common for the ends of the branches to be yellow to a greater or lesser extent. They can reach up to 1 m.

BIOLOGY:

All gorgonians have a colonial behaviour and form a hard lime structure where they protect themselves. The different colonies live separately and feed on zooplankton. Their reproduction may be oviparous sexual or gemmating asexual.

Left photograph: view of the polyps.

HABITAT:

This species lives on hard bases, on rocks and stones on relatively dark muddy beds where there are constant sea currents. It is found in the coral communities of the Mediterranean from depths of 15 to 20 metres.

DISTRIBUTION:

It is found in the Mediterranean sea, preferably in the cooler waters of the north-western Mediterranean.

STATUS:

An unevaluated species (according to the red list of threatened species).

CURIOSITIES:

Unlike red coral, the shell skeleton of gorgonians loses its colour and stinks when it is left out of the water for a time.

OBSERVE: The polyps of this colony are relatively large and you can see their stinging tentacles that enable them to catch their food, plankton.