The Sea Fan: A Beautiful Gift from the Sea

sea fan
Sea Fans are similar to soft corals; however, they anchor themselves in mud or sand instead of attaching themselves to hard substrates. Some require up to eight inches of sand instead of attaching themselves to hard substrates. Known as a Sea Fan, Gorgonacea (more recently known as Alcyonacea) is an order of sessile colonial cnidarian found throughout the oceans of the world, especially in the tropics and subtropics. Closely related to coral, Gorgonacea is formed as tiny individual polyps form colonies, usually taking on an erect shape reminiscent of a fan, flat and branching. Alternately, they may be whiplike, bushy, or even encrusting. A colony can be several feet tall and wide, but only a few inches thick.

Each of the polyps which form the structure has eight tentacles, which catch plankton and particulate matter, which is then consumed. This process, called filter feeding, is facilitated when the ‘fan’ is oriented across the prevailing current to maximize water flow to the gorgonian and hence food supply. Most are nocturnal, only extending their polyps during the nighttime hours. 

Some gorgonians contain algae, or zooxanthellae. This symbiotic relationship assists in giving the gorgonian nutrition via photosynthesis, producing organic compounds that the polyps require. Gorgonians possessing zooxanthellae are usually characterized by brownish polyps. This food source enables the corals to grow faster than they otherwise would; lacking this additional nutrition, they are more dependent on what they derive from filter feeding. Too, those without zooxantellae usually have more brightly colored polyps, with purple, red, and yellow predominating.

There are roughly 500 different species, found primarily in the shallow waters of the Atlantic near Florida, Bermuda, and the West Indies, though some have been found at depths of several thousand feet. The size, shape, and appearance of the gorgonians are highly correlated with their location. The more fan-shaped and flexible gorgonians tend to populate shallower areas with strong currents, while the ‘whips’ can be found in deeper, calmer waters.
Luckily, you don’t have to live on the water to enjoy its treasures. Bring the beauty of a Black Sea Fan home. The perfect display piece for any room or as a distinctive gift, these are stocked in several sizes…but they don’t last long.

Looking forward to hosting a special get-together during the upcoming holidays? We would love to help to ease both your planning and decorating with individual Coastal placecards, accented with your choice of beautiful sea life. This staple from our Beach Wedding Collection can be selected in a color scheme appropriate for your holiday celebration. With selected mini-starfish, sand dollars, or little shells to designate seating arrangements or meal assignments, these placecards are then finished off with your choice of ribbon color, twine, or raffia. Prefer a small poem, Bible scripture, or favorite song on each marker? The possibilities are endless and we’re here to help you pull off your day with beautiful Coastal decor. We offer several other options and features that can be catered to your individual style. Get your planning started here…we can’t wait to see what you choose!

Starfish Placecard Holders by Loving Coastal Living

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About seashellsbyseashore Blogger, Sea Shell/ Nature Inspired Artist, Collector of all things cool & Vintage, Mother of 3 amazing children, Wife to my Best Friend, mother of 3 fabulous bloodhounds! I'm on Etsy too, stop by & SEA us! and on Twitter as @LuckySeaBean- and facebook as well! lol Find some of my other cool links on my main website! Loving Coastal Living all the time!
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