gorgonian fan coral

With vibrant colors and fantastic shapes, coral reefs are a breathtaking sight. These underwater structures are actually colonies of tiny animals called coral polyps. Gorgonian fan corals look like beautiful trees with many thin branches. Most species have an internal, horny skeleton made from proteins. Like trees, corals are quite flexible, and can be seen waving in the current.

Image credits: main image, courtesy of Eugene Weber, California Academy of Sciences.