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Black coral

The black coral (Antipathella wollastoni) is an invertebrate, colonial animal. Its diet consists of plankton. It grows irregularly and its polyps branch out in all directions. Single polyps reach a diameter up to 1.5mm, while a colony reaches up to 1.5m in height. The stem has a diameter of up to 10cm. The skeleton is black and flexible.
The black coral lives on a solid ground, and usually at high depths; the maximum depth where it has been observed is 1,425m! However, in the Canary Islands, where black coral is more frequent, its colonies can be found at 12m of depth. These are arranged inside caves and hollows, in ceilings and walls, always in dark places. From 50 or 60 m depth it can be locally abundant, growing directly on the substrate and forming authentic "forests" of coral. These colonies serve as a substrate for many species of mollusks, shrimps, sponges and sea squirts (ascidean).

The distribution area of Antipathella wollastoni also extends over the Azores, Madeira, Cape Verde, Ascension and the Mediterranean Sea.

In ancient times the Greeks used their branches to make amulets; hence its generic name Anti - pathes, which means "against the disease".

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Black coral