Pictures of soft corals from Raja Ampat islands

December 2012 

The range of soft corals that can be found in West Papua, is featured by an immense variety of species having different shapes and colors, varying from purple to red, to pink and yellow. Soft corals are so called because they do not have an external calcareous skeleton, so their consistence is soft.

Underwater landscape Soft corals
Soft coral
Pictures of soft corals. Soft corals are present in large quantities in Raja Ampat, especially along the reefs sheltered from the strongest waves, but still exposed to ocean currents, as, like the stony corals, these organisms feed on nutrients transported by the water.
Raja Ampat underwater Raja Ampat snorkeling
Raja Ampat diving Raja Ampat corals
Photos of soft corals. Unlike hard corals, soft corals generally lack the symbiosis with zooxanthellae algae, so you see the actual colors determined by its own pigments.
West Papua snorkeling
Soft corals photos. Soft corals are so called because, unlike stony (or hard) corals, they don't have an exoskeleton made of calcium carbonate, so their bodies are soft and flexible.
Snorkeling in Raja Ampat Mushroom shaped coral
Soft corals pictures. Raja Ampat, located within the Coral Triangle in West Papua (Indonesia) hosts an incredible variety of soft corals and they can be easily enjoyed even during a relaxing snorkeling trip, without have to dive deep down.
Snorkeling in West Papua
With a perfectly vertical wall, a mountain sinks into the depths of the Ocean, so, swimming along the edge of the precipice, it's possible to observe a large number of soft corals (especially leather coral) covering completely the rocks.
Snorkeling in Irian Jaya
Mushroom leather coral Leather corals
Diving in Irian Jaya Snorkeling in Indonesia
Leather coral pictures. One of the most widespread species of soft coral in Raja Ampat is the leather coral (also called mushroom coral or mushroom leather coral), which can be found isolated or close to several other different corals.
Soft leather coral
Leather coral photos showing the surface.
Flat leather coral
Picture of leather coral extending on the sea's floor for several squared meters.
Broccoli corals Broccoli coral
Velvet coral Velvet corals
White coral
Other types of soft corals, belonging to genus Dendronephtia, which includes about 250 different species generally characterized by vivid colors and compact shapes. In these pictures, some of the corals commonly known as velvet coral (middle pictures) and broccoli coral (top pictures).
Corals in West Papua
Dendronephtia coral with a vivid red color, growing over an enormous leather coral.
Dendronephtia coral
Red coral

Dendronephtia pictures.

Some of the species belonging to genus Dendronephtia are also called
" broccoli coral " for the resemblance to this vegetable.
Raja Ampat reef

Other photos of Dendronephtia corals.
Another soft coral, more precisely a Goniopora, that shows a pair of extended tentacles.
Gorgonians Gorgonacea
Gorgonian Pink coral
Sea whips

Photos of Gorgonian corals.

The gorgonian corals are highly branched, actually resembling large fans. Raja Ampat is home to a numerous population of gorgonians, mainly concentrated in the more protected waters, where some water flow is in any case still ensured. Included in the order of Gorgonacea, the corals are divided into several families which host various genera and species.

In the photos, some specimens of Gorgonia belonging to genus Melithaea.

Sea fans
Gorgonian photo.
Melithaea Melithaea coral
Sea fan

Other gorgonian pictures belonging to genus Melithaea and commonly called sea fan or Sea whips.
Bubble coral
In Raja Ampat, like in the other areas included in the Coral Triangle, it's possible to find a wide variety of corals, some of which are characterized by a so unusual shape, that it would be difficult at first to classify them as "coral". In this photo, a bubble coral belonging to the genus Plerogyra (probably Plerogyra Sinuous).
Aglaophenia coral
Lytocarpus philippinus

On the left picture, a coral that looks like a fern. It is an Aglaophenia cupressina, characterized by branches shaped like a feather. In the photo above, a similar species: the Lytocarpus philippinus.
Cirripates spiralis
Cirripates spiralis, another coral featured by an unusual shape.
Aglaophenia cupressina

Photos of Aglaophenia cupressina growing close to some sea squirt. This curious coral is widespread in Raja Ampat, especially in the more protected channels having no waves.
False black coral
A false black coral.
Ellisella Ellisella coral
Whip coral

Photos of soft corals belonging to the genus Ellisella, characterized by a wide range of colors. Because of the long and flexible branches, it is commonly called whip coral.
Diving in Indonesia

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