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Phylum Cnidaria > Class Anthozoa > Subclass Alcyonaria/Octocorallia > Order Alcyonacea > Family Alcyoniidae
Omelette leathery soft coral
Sarcophyton sp.*
Family Alcyoniidae
updated Nov 2019

Where seen? This large disk-shaped leathery soft coral that resembles a fried egg is commonly seen on our Southern shores. On coral rubble.

Features: Colony 30-50cm or larger. The colony is usually mushroom-shaped; with a flat, broad disk attached to a hard surface by a short stalk. The diameter of the disk is usually wider than that of the stalk. Polyps only found on the upperside of the broad disk. The edge of the disk may be highly ruffled, especially when submerged. There are no ridges or finger-like structures sticking out of the disk. When out of water, the colony often flops over into a flat disk that looks like a rather badly fried egg! The colony can also contract forming puckered looking balls. The common tissue may be pink, yellow, orange, greenish or brown.

The colony has both autozooids and siphonozooids. Autozooid polyps have long slender body columns (1-2cm) with 8 branched tentacles that are usually white. The siphonozooids do not emerge from the body membrane and function to pump water through the colony. These are small, numerous and look like little dots, densely arranged among the taller autozooid polyps. The tall autozooids can retract completely into the common tissue. Out of water, the surface of the common tissue has two different kinds of holes; bigger ones where the retracted autozooids are, and smaller ones where the siphonozooids are.

'Melting' omelette: During mass coral bleaching, this leathery soft coral not only bleaches but is sometimes also seen to 'melt'. Large holes form in the common tissue so the colony resembles melting cheese. Eventually, the result is that the colony divides into several smaller blobs. Perhaps one way of ensuring at least one of the blobs survives the bleaching event?

Sometimes, tiny ctenophores may be seen on large colonies, so well camouflaged that they are often found by the long fine strings that they produce.

St. John's Island, Aug 05

Pulau Semakau, Aug 11

Cyrene Reef, Jun 12

Colony usually mushroom shaped.
Terumbu Pempang Laut, Aug 10

Bleaching and 'melting' colony during mass coral bleaching.
Terumbu Pempang Tengah, Jul 16

Tiny ctenophores sometimes seen.
Cyrene Reef, Jul 12

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

Omelette leathery soft corals on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Tanah Merah, May 14
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.

Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, Jun 22
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Terumbu Berkas, Jan 10

Pulau Pawai, Dec 09

Pulau Senang, Aug 10

Pulau Senang, Jun 10


Pulau Salu, Aug 10

Pulau Sudong, Dec 09

Terumbu Salu, Jan 10

Sarcophyton species recorded for Singapore
from Y. Benayahu and L. M. Chou, 28 Feb 2010. On some Octocorallia (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Alcyonacea) from Singapore.

  Family Alcyoniidae
Genus Sarcophyton
  Sarcophyton crassocaule
Sarcophyton ehrenbergi
Sarcophyton glaucum
Sarcophyton tenuispiculatum
Sarcophyton teocheliophorum



  • Y. Benayahu and L. M. Chou, 28 Feb 2010. On some Octocorallia (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Alcyonacea) from Singapore, with a description of a new Cladiella species. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 58(1) Pp. 1-13.
  • 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
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