Soft coral

Soft coral

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Credit: PETER SCOONES/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Soft coral (Dendronepthya sp.) seen against the glow of the Sun at the water's surface. Fish are seen circling overhead and a brittlestar (yellow, lower centre, subclass Ophiuroidea) is seen on the coral. The orange fronds seen here are the tiny tentacles of the individual coral organisms. These tentacles filter plankton from the water and pass them to the organism's mouth. This is a soft coral, which differs from a hard coral in that the coral organisms do not produce a calcium-rich rocky protective layer. Coral reefs form the basis of extensive and diverse marine ecosystems, providing shelter and food for a vast array of life. Photographed in the Red Sea.

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Keywords: animal, brittlestar, coelenterate, coral, dendronephtya sp., echinoderm, echinodermata, fish, forager, foraging, grazer, grazing, herbivore, herbivorous, indian, indo-pacific, invertebrate, invertebrates, marine, nature, ocean, ophiuroid, ophiuroidea, red sea, reef, sea, soft, sun, sunlight, surface, underwater, wildlife, zoology

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