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coral: Soft Corals

The soft corals (Alcyonaria) are a group of soft, often feathery forms, with skeletons composed of calcareous or horny particles imbedded in the body wall. Each polyp of a soft coral has eight tentacles. Among the well-known soft corals are the sea pen, sea pansy, whip coral, and organpipe coral. The precious red coral (Corallium) of the Mediterranean Sea, used for jewelry, also belongs to that group. The spicules of its skeleton are fused together.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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