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We specialize is Black Coral jewelry

What are black corals?

Shapes vary from a single, whip-like axis to an elaborate tangle of branches. They occur in all oceans, but are most common in deep water habitats of tropical seas.

Black corals are colonial animals related to sea anemones and stony corals. But unlike reef-building corals in the shallower waters above, black corals lack the symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) in their tissues. This means they are not limited to sunlit reaches of the reef and can occur in caves and under ledges, as well as at great depth. Their branches host a number of symbiotic relationships: they're commonly home to worms, crustaceans, mollusks and fishes.

They are also made of different stuff than the corals we usually see in shallow water reefs. "They don't have a white skeleton like the shallow, stony corals," explains Montgomery. "They have a protein and chitin skeleton, like an insect exoskeleton, which gives them that black appearance." Interconnected polyps form a thin "living bark" over that central skeleton. Depending on the species, the living tissue may be black, orange, brown, yellow or white.

To feed, black coral polyps must capture food particles with their tentacles, some of which are armed with nematocysts.