Phylum Cnidaria > Class Anthozoa > Subclass Alcyonaria/Octocorallia > Order Gorgonacea
Leathery sea fan
awaiting identification*
Family Gorgoniidae
updated Oct 2016

Where seen? This bushy colony with thick, fleshy branches is often seen on reefs on our Southern shores. On the reef flats and at reef edges, usually among living corals.

Features: Colony bushy 20-30m wide, with stems that are long and not frequently branched. Each stem is cylindrical, thick (about 1cm in diameter) and fleshy with a texture that resembles leathery soft coral (Family Alcyoniidae). Usually dusky pinkish beige. Each stem has a dark, stiffly flexible wire-like central support that is sometimes exposed at the tips. Fat polyps are about 1cm long with short branched tentacles. They can retract completely leaving a smooth common tissue.

Unlike other more colourful sea fans which are found in dark places or murky water, the Leathery sea fan harbours symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) which produces nutrients through photosynthesis and shares these with the sea fan host. They are thus found in the open in reefs with clearer water.

These sea fans may be Hicksonella princeps or Rumphella species.

Pulau Jong, May 10
Wire-like central support.


Terumbu Pempang Laut, Aug 10

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

Photos of Leathery sea fans for free download from wildsingapore flickr

Distribution in Singapore on this wildsingapore flickr map

Tanah Merah, Jun 10
Photo shared by James Koh on his blog.

Lazarus Island, Nov 14
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.

Kusu Island, May 16
Photo shared by Jonathan Tan on facebook.

Pulau Tekukor, Jun 16
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Pulau Tekukor, Jan 17
Photo shared by Richard Kuah on facebook.

Pulau Semakau East, Jul 15
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Pulau Semakau North, Jul 15
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Terumbu Bemban, Jun 10

Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.

Beting Bemban Besar, May 11
Photo shared by James Koh on his blog.

Pulau Biola, Dec 09



  • 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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