Sea fans

Beachcombing in Pearly Beach turned up this fine specimen of a Sea fan, although this looks like a plant, it’s actually a colony of animals related to coral. Supported by a branching stem, a horny substance called gorgonin. The stems in long lived species of sea fans are studied in the same way ice core samples and tree rings are, which correlate with seasonal variations revealing much about Earth’s climate change.

The sea fan grows below the wave surge but across the prevailing current presenting a large surface area maximising water flow so each animal polyp can feed on the suspended plankton and other particles using their eight tentacles which protrude from the often brightly coloured jelly like substance coating the stem.

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sea fan (2)
sea fan