Red Gorgonian Sea Fan

Melithaea sp.

The Red Gorgonian or sea fan appears to be a single individual, but like its hard coral cousins it actually consists of thousands of tiny individuals (polyps) cemented together in a colony. When the polyps are fully expanded the whole sea fan appears to be covered with tiny flowers. Skeletons of  gorgonians are often found washed up on beaches after storms. They are generally woody in texture although some may be calcium based, or a combination of both. Forests of large sea fans are favourite habitats of large fish such as Red Emperor.

Species of Melithaea are found throughout the Indo-west Pacific.

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