Leptogorgia hebes Verrill, 1869
Family: Gorgoniidae
Common names: False Sea Fan,  more...
Leptogorgia hebes image
Leptogorgia hebes  

Species Description: Gorgonians, or soft corals, belong to the suborder Holaxonia. These colonial cnidarians are so named because they lack the permanent, rigid skeleton of hard corals. As octocorallians, they possess 8 tentacles and 8 complete mesentaries. Only a single siphonoglyph is present. Branches in gorgonians are arranged around a central axis. Leptogorgia hebes is a thickly branching gorgonian which usually grows in one plane. Branch color may range from orange or red to purple. Polyps are white and alternate along the branches in rows. See Verrill 1869; and Bayer 1961 for further description and taxonomic information.

Regional Occurrence: Leptogorgia hebes occurs from North Carolina to Brazil, including the east central and Gulf coasts of Florida. Depth distribution is approximately from 25 - 130 ft.

IRL Distribution: L. hebes occurs in inlet areas of the Indian River Lagoon and in the nearshore reefs off east central Florida.

Age, Size, Lifespan: Shallow inshore and offshore populations of Leptogorgia hebes showed annual periodicity of concentric rings in the axial skeleton. However, no differences were observed in growth increments of colonies from either site (Mitchell 1993). Although spicule formation occurs throughout the colony, it is most rapid at the branch tip (Kingsley & Watabe 1989).

Typical adult size of Leptogorgia hebes is 15 cm.

Abundance: Common

Locomotion: Sessile

Temperature: Temperature range for Leptogorgia hebes on nearshore reefs off Fort Pierce, FL was 13 - 31°C, and averaged 24.6°C.

Salinity: Salinity ranges from 26 - 36.4 ppt for L. hebes colonies in the nearshore reefs off Ft. Pierce, FL.

Trophic Mode: Suspension feeding on plankton and other small animals that come within range of the polyp's tentacles.

Habitat: Rock and limestone ledges are preferred substrata for Leptogorgia hebes. Shallow water populations of L. hebes are able to withstand moderate wave exposure.

Bayer FM. 1961. The shallow-water Octocorallia of the West Indian region. Studies on the Fauna of Curaçao and other Caribbean Islands 12: 1-373.

Kingsley RJ, Watabe N. 1989. The dynamics of spicule calcification in whole colonies of the gorgonian Leptogorgia virgulata (Lamarck) (Coelenterata: Gorgonacea). J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 133: 57-65.

Mitchell ND, Dardeau MR, Schroeder WW. 1993. Colony morphology, age structure, and relative growth of two gorgonian corals, Leptogorgia hebes (Verrill) and Leptogorgia virgulata (Lamarck), from the northerm Gulf of Mexico. Coral Reefs 12: 65-70.

Verrill AE. 1869. Synopsis of the polyps and corals of the North Pacific Exploring Expedition, under Commodore C. Ringgold and Capt. John Rodgers, USN, from 1853 to 1856. Part IV. Actiniaria. In: Proc Essex Inst 6: 51-104.

Acrorhagi: Plural of Acrorhagus.

Acrorhagus: Cnidocyte-covered elevation on specialized sweeper tentacles or on the column of anthozoans.

Cnida: An eversible cnidarian organelle that occurs in the cnidocyte.

Cnidae: Plural of cnida.

Cnidocil: A short, stiff, bristle-like cilium that is borne on the cnidocyte and acts as a trigger for the cnida or nematocysts.

Coelenteron: The body cavity and gut of cnidarians and ctenophores; gastrovascular cavity.

Column: The stalk portion of sea anemones.

Hydromedusa: Hydrozoan medusa.

Hydromedusae: Plural of hydromedusa.

Hydrorhiza: Horizontal rootlike stolon of a hydroid colony that grows over the substratum.

Hydrorhizae: Plural of hydrorhiza.

Mesoglea: Connective tissue layer between the epidermis and gastrodermis of cnidarians and ctenophores.

Nematocyst: Stinging cnida of cnidarians.

Ocelli: Plural of ocellus.

Ocellus: A small cluster of photoreceptors; a simple eye.

Oral Disk: Area around the mouth of an anthozoan polyp which bears eight to several hundred hollow tentacles.

Pedal Disk: In some sea anemones, a flattened disc at the aboral end of the column for attachment.

Planula: A cnidarian larva that is elongated and radially symmetrical but with anterior and posterior ends.

Planulae: Plural of planula.

Septa: Plural of septum.

Septum: A double-walled tissue partition in the radial plane of a cnidarian.

Spirocyst: Cnida with a long adhesive thread that functions in capture of prey and in attachment to a substratum.

Tentacle: Evagination of the body wall surrounding the mouth which aids in the capture and ingestion of food.

Zooxanthella: A golden-brown alga, usually a dinoflagellate, that is symbiotic with various marine animals, especially cnidarians.

Zooxanthellae: Plural of zooxanthella.