, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Apart from being popular for its trade and rich culture, Gujarat is also known for its vast coast line and marine abundance. Gulf of Kachchh is a magnificent inlet of the Arabian Sea on the coast of Gujarat. As a part of Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project, a team of marine experts from Gujarat Ecology Commission have found many samples of sea weeds while exploring the Azad island of Gulf of Kachchh, which falls under the protected area of Marine National Park & Sanctuary, Jamnagar. The team also found soft coral species of variable sizes which are isolate and distributed in the shallow water. Soft corals like Cnidaria, Octocorallia, Alcyonacea and Alcyoniina are spread over the world and are pivotal part of the coral reef ecosystem. Soft corals are colonies of tiny, individual polyps linked to one another. It is also seen like the tender green branches of trees or like mushrooms. When it is exposed during low tide, these soft corals float over water and resemble a pile of jelly. Whereas, when it is submerged it gets expanded like beautiful furry plant.

The photo given here is of the Dendronephthya species, which comes under order Alcyonaceae followed by family Nephthyidae. Prof. J. Arthur Thomson and Mr. George Crane of University of Aberdeen had first recorded this species in 1909. They termed Dendronephthya as genus and recorded two species D. dendrophytaand  D. brevirama. Previously these two species had been recorded from China Sea, Torres Strait, and Philippines Sea.

The Dendronephthya is also known as cauliflower corals. It requires constant feeding and is extremely sensitive to changes in water chemistry. They feed on phytoplankton, and require both a steady supply of phytoplankton and sufficient flow to carry the food to its polyps. The vegetative reproduction is most splendid for this species.