The Violescent Sea-Whip (Paramuricea clavata) is a marine (saltwater) soft coral in the Plexauridae family. It is also known as the Purple Gorgonin. It is an animal, not a plant.
The Violescent Sea-Whip is red or reddish-purple, but it may be partly yellow. It grows in the soil at the bottom of the ocean. It has branching arms, like a whip, that form a fan shape. The stem and branches are made from a protein called gorgonin, that forms a bony skeleton. Polyps protrude from the skeleton. The polyps have a central mouth disc with eight tentacles around the circular disc.
The colony of the Violescent Sea-Whip grows to about 100 centimetres (39 inches) tall and wide. The polyps are small at about 1 centimetre (half an inch) in length.
It is found in the north-eastern Atlantic Ocean and the north-western Mediterranean Sea, particularly near the coast of Spain and Portugal. It prefers shallow waters in coral reefs.
It is a filter feeder. The polyps catch microscopic food, such as copepods, with their tentacles.
It lives in a colony. Each colony is either male or female.
The male colony fertilizes the female colony, and the planula larvae drift in the ocean tide. The larvae settle on the seabed and develop into polyps and start secreting gorgonin to form the bony skeleton.
The Violescent Sea-Whip is slow-growing and lives for over 50 years.
[Location of photographs: Aquarium de Paris-Cinéaqua, France]
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM