TGIF: Worlds Deepest Sea Fan

Plan view of polyps in Convexella, the deepest gorgonian genus

Plan view of polyps in Convexella, the deepest gorgonian genus

A scanning elcctron microscope image of Convexella, the deepest known sea fan, from the incredible depth of 5850 meters in the frigid Antarctic Ocean. Octocorals in the family Primnoidae (prim-no-id-day) are some of the most beautiful gorgonians because of their complex polyp architecture. Convexella krampi (Madsen, 1956) holds the depth record, ranging throughout the Antarctic, subantarctic South America, North Atlantic, and Kermdec Trench.

The image above looks down on a whorl of delicately armored polyps of Convexella magelhaenica, a sister species to C. krampi. The whorl of polyps  is on the order of 2-3 mm. The illustration is part of a new generic revision of the octocoral family Primnoidae by Smithsonian curators Dr. Steven Cairns and F.M. Bayer (2009).


Cairns, SD & FM Bayer. 2009. A Generic Revision and Phylogenetic Analysis of the Primnoidae. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, No. 629. Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, Washington, DC.

Peter Etnoyer (397 Posts)

PhD candidate at Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi and doctoral fellow Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies.

4 Replies to “TGIF: Worlds Deepest Sea Fan”

  1. Wait, is this a photograph? If so, and heck, even if not, this is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. It has a Haeckel look about it.

  2. Micrographs including SEM counts as ‘photographs’ in my book. I just meant is it real or is it Clairol a drawing or rendering of some sort. Wow.

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