For Black Friday, instead of shopping, we give you a black coral. This coral and associated shrimp were seen on the eastern scarp above the West Florida Escarpment in the Gulf of Mexico. Black corals vary in tissue color, but their skeletons are black; you can see the black skeleton in this image, if you look closely just under the pink tissue.
Two red Anthomastus octocoral (a large one and small one), a squat lobster (Munidopsis sp.), an unidentified species of anemone, and several shrimp on a rocky outcrop, deep sea, from the Gulf of Mexico 2012 Expedition.
Image courtesy of the NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program.
Or rather, Dendronephthya, the Carnation corals. These soft corals are tempting to aquarium hobbyists because of their dazzling colors (pink, red, blue, yellow, white…) but be warned: they do not photosynthesize (like many corals), so they rely exclusively on filter feeding for nutrition and are very difficult to keep healthy in captivity. If you are in love with this pretty animal, consider visiting at a public aquarium, or at its home in the western Indo-Pacific instead!
Extending its arms 8 inches (20 cm) across, a pink crab perches on a bed of soft coral 2,310 feet (740 meters) deep in the Sangihe Talaud region off of Indonesia. The Little Hercules ROV captured this image of the colorful critter during a 2010 ocean expedition. Crabs like these are only found living on soft coral.
Credit: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, INDEX-SATAL 2010
Strikingly beautiful carnation corals in the genus Dendronephthya are among the most commonly traded soft corals. However, these corals are poor choices for aquarium hobbyists. Since they lack algal symbionts (zooxanthellae), they must extract all of their food from the water. But getting the right balance of nutrients is difficult in an aquarium, so most captive Dendronephthya die within a few weeks.
This spectacular specimen, hanging out with an egg cowrie snail, was photographed in the wild in North Sulawesi by Bernard Dupont. It comes to EOL via Flickr (cc-by-nc-sa): http://www.flickr.com/photos/berniedup/7970532646/
Also known as the Zebra-striped Gorgonian Wrapper as an reference to its coloration, the Gorgonain Wrapper is a species of colonial sea anemone found throughout the Indo-Pacific. This cnidarian is commonly found in strings of individual polyps all of which with individual tentacles.
is a species of soft coral commonly found off the coasts of the north Atlantic. Like most corals this species is a colony of small animals called zooids. These colonies attach themselves to the bedrock or large stones, some colonies have also been seen growing on the shells of crabs and large gastropods. Like all corals A. digitatum is a suspension feeder filtering the water and taking in any plankton and oxygen they find.
Solitary stony cup coral with tentacles extended in feeding position. Image captured by the Little Hercules ROV at 600 meters depth on the Paramount seamounts on July 14, 2011, during the Galapágos Rift Expedition.
Close up on octocoral, likely a member of the family Primnoidae. Image captured by the Little Hercules ROV at 600 meters depth on the Paramount seamounts on July 14, 2011, during the Galapágos Rift Expedition.
This beautiful image displays a four-way assocation between creatures:
The hermit crab is associated with the soft coral (with its polyps retracted). The hermit crab is also associated with an episymbiontic anemone - the snail shell provides a home to both animals. Image captured by the Little Hercules ROV at 422 meters depth on ‘Site K’, explored July 11, 2010 during the INDEX SATAL 2010 Expedition.
Image courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, INDEX-SATAL 2010.