Range/Geographical Distribution: New Jersey to the Gulf of Mexico.
Habitat: Attaches to rocks, reefs, pilings, shells, and other hard surfaces in shallow coastal waters.
Description: This branch-like coral is covered in polyps and has highly variable coloration, including purple, yellow, red, and white.
Size: Can reach three feet in height.
Food: Suspension feeder; eats plankton.
Breeding: Reproduces sexually by external fertilization. Planktonic larvae float for up to 20 days before settling on a hard surface. After attachment, the larvae morph into a form that more closely resembles the adult.
Predators: Nudibranchs and burrfish.
Conservation Status: No legal status.
Interesting Facts: Sea whips are considered octocorals because they possess eight tentacles on each polyp.
On the Coast: Pieces of sea whip colonies often wash up on Georgia’s beaches. The colored parts are recently dead and the black parts are the sea whip’s skeleton.