Black coral (gerardia savaglia)
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Common name Black coral
Scientific name Gerardia savaglia
Class Anthozoa
Order Zoantidei
Family Gerardidae
Distribution The Mediterranean and isolated locations in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean (the Canary Isles, Madeira)
Habitat rocky and hard gorgonian coral substrates at depths of 40 to over 80 metres.
Dimensions Can reach 1 m in height
Characteristicts Large yellow polyps; the larger examples have an extremely rigid skeleton.

Black coral is colonial with a rigid, rod-like skeleton forming large aborescent fans that are dark brown to almost black in colour. There are no calcareous components in the skeleton, and no calcareous spines (spicules or sclerites) in the soft tissues, home to the large polyps (up to 3cm). Each polyp has a circle of numerous smooth tentacles. Both the colony and the polyps are yellow.

Though capable of forming its own skeleton, this species usually covers that of the Gorgonians. The invasion takes place on both living and dead colonies, which are progressively destroyed by the Gerardia as it grows up to 8 cm per year. Recently an association has been discovered between this species and the Balsia Gasti Shrimp.