Black Coral – Antipathella wollastoni

The Black Coral is a species in the order of the Black Corals and thus belongs to the class of the Anthozoa. Antipathella wollastoni was first described by Gray in 1857.


The appearance of the Black Coral resembles a conifer. Without light, the polyps appear green. With lighting they become reddish to brown. They grow irregularly and 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.

Habitat and Distribution

Antipathella wollastoni lives on a solid ground. They are found in depths from 20m. However, this is rarely the case. In most places it starts at depths of 40m. The maximum depth it was observed is up to 1425m!

When diving in the Canaries you can see them very frequently. At many dive sites there are whole forests of black corals.

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


The Black Coral lives sessil and in large colonies. Their diet consists of plankton.

The reproduction begins with the rise of the water temperature, the spawning taking place during summer at the highest water temperatures.

Often one finds the Bushy Encrusting Anemone on Antipathella wollastoni. It uses the skeleton to spread.


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