Different octocoral forms

Figure 1: Octocoral colonies can grow in a variety of sizes and forms. Soft corals or sea fans often grow into large structures, while others are very small and develop by (A) spreading stolons (runners) on the surfaces of rocks. Others grow vertically with the first polyp at the top (B). Most, however, occur as large and sometimes massive, structures. These are commonly called soft corals (C) or sea fans (D).

Related Links

Mountains in the Sea 2003

Mountains in the Sea: Octocorals

NOAA Ocean Explorer Gallery