Gorgonia leptogorgia - Leptogorgia sarmentosa
Leptogorgia belongs to the philum of the Cnidarians, to the class of Anthozoans, to the subclass of the Octocorals and to the order of the Gorgonians.
The name cnidarians justifies the presence of cnidocysts or rather stinging cells, distributed throughout the body and mostly in the tentacles.
They are otherwise called coelenterates as they possess a gastric cavity called celenteron which together with a primitive muscular structure places the cnidarians at a first level of evolution in the anatomical organization.
The colony of gorgonians has a hard and horny consistency and a flat plant shape that develops like a fan;
the shape of a flower bud remains constant in the polyps;
coloring plays an important role here as far as our interest as underwater tourists is concerned:
– the colony has colors that, depending on the species, range from white to yellow to green and red, and in a variant of the paramuricea, nicknamed chameleon, the same colony has red and yellow colors from defined to nuanced;
– the polyps always show the colony color, except in the singularis where the presence of zooantella algae creates more intense green colors than the polyps in contrast with the white of the colony’s stolon;
– even in this large family, food is fed by filtering organic material from the water, but, in most species, also by active capture of the tentacles of the polyps;
– the colonial communion starts from the basic stolon and develops in the secretion of the entire support and the covering bark of the support itself.
Leptogorgia is a gorgonian capable of withstanding considerable suspension loads in its territory, indeed where there is greater suspension, and therefore also loaded with organic elements, there is a better possibility of development of the species. The arrangement on several vertical axes of the branches of the colony (unlike the red and yellow and in some cases white cousins which offer a single plane to the current) is an indication of lesser importance of the supply of food offered by the currents than that distributed in space multi-directional.
Leptogorgia sarmentosa (Esper, 1791) is an octopus of the Gorgoniidae family.
Arborescent gorgonian with a spongy consistency, white to red in color, commonly orange. The branches are rather thin, especially in the terminal part. The polyps are white, about 1 – 1.5 millimeters. The colony can reach up to one meter in height.
The various colonies grow isolated from their peers. It feeds on zooplankton, filtering it thanks to the action of the current.
Distribution and habitat
Mediterranean Sea, Eastern Atlantic Ocean, in turbid waters, rich in nourishment, exposed to the current on muddy bottoms or on coralligenous, between 20 and 300 meters deep.