Leptogorgia sarmentosa belongs to one of the 29 genera that exist within the family Gorgoniidae, the genus Leptogorgia in which 173 species have been described. This arborescent gorgonian, with a more or less spongy consistency, inhabits the waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean, where it lives at depths of up to 300 meters.
It is a colonial species, where colonies can reach a height of up to 1 meter. Arborescent in shape, its branches are thin and completely covered with small white polyps of no more than 1.5 mm in size, arranged in two rows. Contrasting with its polyps, the color of the colony tissue, which is usually orange, although there are specimens more whitish or reddish. The base of the colony is usually little branched, having usually between 2 and 3 thick branches, which as we move through them, these are branching more and more. The base is firmly anchored to the rocky substrate. The main branches are usually somewhat flattened and have between 4 and 5 mm in diameter. The lateral branches are thinner, with a serrated appearance and approximately 1 - 2 mm in diameter. Depending on the prevailing currents of the area in which they live, the shape of the specimens can be more or less variable, with specimens growing in a single direction in places where the currents are relatively stable in the same direction, while if the currents are usually variable, the specimens tend to be more bushy in shape.
Leptogorgia sarmentosa prefers shady places, such as cave entrances or large crevices. Other species such as Neosimnia spelta and Tritonia nilsodhneri can be found on the specimens of this gorgonian. These species feed on the tissues of the gorgonian.
The food of this gorgonian consists of zooplankton that it captures thanks to the stinging cells present in the tentacles of its polyps.Photos: