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Phylum Cnidaria > Class Anthozoa > Subclass Alcyonaria/Octocorallia > Order Alcyonacea > Family Alcyoniidae
Starry leathery soft coral
Sinularia brassica*

Family Alcyoniidae

Updated Nov 2019

Where seen? This leathery soft coral with polyps like little stars is sometimes seen on some of our shores. Among coral rubble and sandy areas near reefs.

Features: The colony about 10-15cm in diameter. Sometimes covering large areas of 50cm or more.
The colony may be thick, disk-like with a highly ruffled edge, or encrusting with knobs, lobes and fingers. The surface of the leathery common tissue usually has many large spindle-shaped structures usually paler than the common tissue. This is more obvious when the colony is out of water and the autozooid polyps are retracted. Common tissue may be beige, pinkish to yellowish, or dark brown to purplish.

It has only one kind of polyp (autozooid) although there are very tiny spots among the autozooids giving the leathery common tissue has a rather 'crystalline' appearance. The transparent polyps are tiny (0.2cm), 8 short conical tentacles with tiny branches, the body column hardly seen. The autozooids can retract completely into the common tissue. In some, the autozooids emerge from small lumps or even long tubular segments of the common tissue. The animals harbour symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae).

During one night trip, a large colony was seen with many tiny brittle stars all over the surface. This has not been observed during daylight visits.

Terumbu Bemban, Jul 11

8 short fat branched tentacles.

Terumbu Berkas, Jan 10

Many fat, spindle shaped structures
embedded in the common tissue .

Terumbu Pempang Tengah, Apr 12

Spindles sticking out of torn common tissue.

Tuas, Dec 03
Tiny spots give the common tissue
a 'crystalline' appearance.

Labrador, Jul 05

Tiny transparent star-like polyps.

Tuas, Dec 03

Polyps appear on lumps or tubular extensions.

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

Starry leathery soft corals on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Pulau Tekukor, Jan 17

Photo shared by Marcus Ng on facebook.

Terumbu Pempang Laut, Aug 16

Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Pulau Biola, Dec 09

Terumbu Salu, Jan 10



  • 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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