The Common Sea Fan (Gorgonia ventalina), as its name suggests, is pretty common in the waters around Anguilla, gently swaying in the water forming forest-like areas where it grows with other gorgonian species. The image here is a close-up of the colony structure, with small polyps visible semi-extended out from its skeletal branches. When observed during the day these polyps are usually tucked safely away, waiting for night to fall before they come out to feed. This individual was obviously getting impatient while waiting for the sun to set as it was attempting to grab a snack earlier than normal. I guess it must have had meager pickings the night before.
One thing to look out for when snorkelling reefs dominated by soft corals are the parasitic Solitary Gorgonian Hydroid that from time to time can be seen living happily perched on this species. They are quite facinanting and perfect for the macro photographers among you.
Originally posted on Instagram @sea_anguilla with the text: Macro looking in close through a sea fan showing polyp detail. It’s amazing how these tiny little creatures build the beautiful structures that they do: the gently swaying soft coral forests that can be seen in areas such as Limestone Bay and Shoal Bay East. Magical.