© Joseph Dougherty. All rights reserved.
Also known as whip corals, Cirrhipathes species are long, unbranched corals, which extend up to three metres or more, from a base attached to the reef. They may be straight or form attractive and peculiar twisted or coiled shapes. The colour of these corals is variable, including pale green, yellow, brown and grey. Like all other black corals (those belonging to the order Antipatharia), Cirrhipathes species have a dark skeleton, after which they are named, covered with polyps, the soft bodied, colorful part of the coral. Each polyp is attached to the skeleton at the base, while the other end bears a mouth surrounded by tentacles. Unlike many corals which retract their polyps during the day or night, Cirrhipathes species can only partly retract their polyps, giving the coral a barbed-wire-like appearance.
Cirrhipathes corals are listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which means that trade in this species should be carefully regulated