Sea Whip

Project Description

Sea Whip

Leptogorgia virgulata


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.

Project Details


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