This branching coral is a Deep-Water Sea Fan. As its name suggests, we saw it in deep water about 80 feet deep. The Sea Fan was four or five feet tall. Also notice the Brown Branching Tube Sponges and the Red Rope Sponges.
A coral is a colony of thousands of animals called polyps (say, "PAH-lips"). Each of these tiny animals is about the size of the eraser on the end of a pencil. Each polyp has small tentacles, and looks sort of like a small squid or octopus. The polyp uses its tentacles to catch microscopic plants and animals called plankton that float in the water.
Working together, all the animals in the colony build the branches of the Deep-Water Sea Fan. The branches are made of calcium compounds and are similar to a skeleton. The animals live on this skeleton, sort of like people living in a tall apartment building.
Tube sponges are also colonies of animals. Learn more about how these animals eat by pumping water, on the ReefNews Yellow Tube Sponge website.
Notice how clear the water is. Even though we were 80 feet under water, the water was bright blue and we could see the surface above us. We saw the Deep-Water Sea Fan and Sponges at North Wall near Bimini in The Bahamas.
Learn more about the Coral Reefs of Bimini on the 2001 ReefNews CD-ROM
Bimini: Jewel of the Gulf Stream
Tessa Dowell took this picture using a Nikonos V with 28mm lens and SB105 strobe. This photo was taken during the ReefNews research expedition to Bimini, June 2001.