Soft Coral Dendronephthya spp.
Once you dive deeper into Hong Kong’s water, you will find yourself submerged in a world of colorful, soft and tendering corals. This species of soft corals, Dendronephthya spp., which can grow into glomerate, divaricate or umbrellate form belongs to the sub-Class Octocorallia. They are characterized by its eight pinnate tentacles and internal calcareous skeletal elements called sclerites and can often grow to sizes over 1m in diameter and height. With the presence of red or yellow sclerites embedded in the tissues, their eye-catching colors have turned them into one of the favorites of underwater photographers.
Unlike stony corals, Dendronephthya spp. lack symbiotic zooxanthallae and thus do not depend on photosynthesis for producing food. This allows them to inhabit deeper water with lower light attenuation With the aid of their contractable tentacles, they actively filter and feed on phytoplankton, protozoa and particulate organic carbon from the water which travels in close proximity to them As a matter of fact, waters with stronger current would favor their feeding behavior that would bring more food in contact with these corals.
Name in Chinese: 海雞冠
Genus/ Species: Dendronephthya spp.
Site of discovery: Tung Ping Chau Marine Park