Did you know that coral lives in the Arctic? This is not a reef building coral, but a soft coral, called Gersemia rubiformis. This species also lives in the North Atlantic and North Pacific, as far south as North Carolina and California. Its close relatives live in the deep sea. Like a typical coral, each Gersemia is a colony of many individual polyps (imagine a bunch of anemomes stuck together). These polyps all have stinging cells that they use to catch zooplankton prey. They lack the symbiotic algae that many warmer species of coral have. When you bump them, the polyps all bunch up and the coral becomes a compact lump.
These guys are pretty common in the Boulder Patch and can grow in relatively high densities in certain places (>10 square meter). This year, we found a bunch of very small (~3mm) juveniles covering one of our dataloggers.. Seems live there’s a lot of larvae produced by these coral!
*side note: We’ve been crazy busy, diving almost every day for a week. But now the winds are back, so I will be catching up on blogs.