Sea whip

Leptogorgia setacea

Family Gorgoniidae - corals

Colonial polyps arranged in whip-like colonies, long, thin, string or rope-like, diameter to about 4 mm (0.15 in), length up to 2 m (6.5 ft); color yellow or purplish; usually unbranched; unattached or attached to a small shell or other solid object usually by a narrow tuft; the center core of the colonies is a dark wire-like axial rod (usually only seen in dead specimens); calyces (the cavity that surrounds the polyp) may be raised or flush, arranged in singular or multiple rows along the sides.
Similar Species
The other sea whip in our area, L. virgulata, is moderately branched and attaches by a basal plate. It is usually found attached to jetties.
Gulf and bays
Maximum Size
up to 2 m (6 1/2 ft)
Other Common Names
Previous Scientific Names
Sometimes washes ashore in great tangled masses. May be mistaken for yellowish rope.