soft corals text index | photo index
Phylum Cnidaria > Class Anthozoa > Subclass Alcyonaria/Octocorallia > Order Alcyonacea
Broad feathery soft coral
Sansibia flava*
Family Xeniidae
updated Feb 2020

Where seen? Growing on small stones, this colony of tiny animals is often overlooked. However, they are commonly seen on our Southern shores. Near the mid-water mark, on rocky shores and among coral rubble.

Features: Colony about 5-10cm in area. Only one kind of polyp (autozooids) emerging from a thin soft common membrane which can also be ribbon-like (stolons) although this is usually hidden under sand and sediment. Polyps 1cm in diameter, on stalks about 1-2cm long. The eight tentacles are broad and have many thick side branches (pinnules) arranged in 1 to 4 rows along both edges of each tentacle. Some have long tentacles, in others the tentacles are shorter.

The tiny polyps usually don't retract completely into the common tissue, and don't pulsate.
Polyps from beige, pink, pale powder blue to bright blue, the entire animal the same colour, but the entire colony may have patches of polyps in different colours. The blue sheen is due to the iridescent sclerites (tiny bits of calcium carbonate) that are found throughout the animal.

The animals harbour high densities of symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) and thus can be found in clearer water or higher up on the intertidal zone.

St. John's Island, Aug 05

Polyps do not retract completely.

Sisters Islands, Jan 07

Terumbu Pempang Tengah, May 11

Sisters Islands, Jul 04

*Species are difficult to positively identify without close examination.
On this website, they are grouped by external features for convenience of display

Broad feathery soft corals on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Berlayar Creek, Feb 20
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Terumbu Hantu, Jul 20
Photo shared by Richard Kuah on facebook.

Pulau Biola, Dec 09

Terumbu Berkas, Jan 10

Pulau Pawai, Dec 09

Pulau Sudong, Dec 09
Photo shared by James Koh on his flickr.

Pulau Senang, Jun 10



  • Fabricius, Katharina and Philip Alderslade, 2001. Soft Corals and Sea Fans. Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territoriy. 264 pp.
links | references | about | email Ria
Spot errors? Have a question? Want to share your sightings? email Ria I'll be glad to hear from you!
wildfactsheets website©ria tan 2008