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Common sea fan
Gorgonia ventalina
Linnaeus, 1758

Description:
Colonies are large, in a single plane, and fan shaped. The outline of the colony is an interconnected network of thin branches which enclose irregular, triangular or rectangular spaces. The branches are round or slightly compressed in the plane of the fan. The apertures are very small pores located in two rows along the edges of the branches. The fans can be large, 1.5-1.8 m high and 1.2-1.5 m broad.

Color:
The fans are purple, yellow or brownish in color.

Habitat:
Restricted to the outer reefs and patch reefs to 30 m.

Distribution:
Very widespread from Bermuda south to Curacao.

Remarks:
Two other sea fans occur in the region, but are less common.
The Venus sea fan (Gorgonia flabellum ) can be distinguished by the flattening of the branches. In G. ventalina the branches are round or slightly flattened in the plane of the fan, while in G. flabellum the branches are flattened at right angles to the plane of the fan. Colonies can be 1 m in height and can be almost as broad.
The Wide-mesh sea fan (Gorgonia mariae ) is much smaller (up to 30 cm) and the secondary branches do not always unite or interconnect, giving a widely meshed appearance.

Common sea fan (Gorgonia ventalina)