Eunicea clavigera, BAYER, 1961

Sánchez, Juan Armando, 2009, Systematics of the candelabrum gorgonian corals (Eunicea Lamouroux; Plexauridae; Octocorallia; Cnidaria), Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 157 (2), pp. 237-263 : 248-253

publication ID 10.1111/j.1096-3642.2008.00515.x

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Eunicea clavigera


EUNICEA CLAVIGERA BAYER, 1961 ( FIGS 4–7 View Figure 4 View Figure 5 View Figure 6 View Figure 7 , 8H View Figure 8 )

Eunicea clavigera Bayer, 1961: 147 (Holotype: USNM 50265 View Materials ).

Eunicea sp. Sánchez & Lasker, 2003: 2040.

Eunicea sp. 1 Sánchez & Wirshing, 2005: 515.

Description: Colonies up to 1.8 m in height, long branches, irregular branching ( Fig. 4 View Figure 4 ). Terminal branches 5–15 mm without the calyx. Calyx long, paler than the surrounding tissue in dry samples. Middle layer sclerites robust spindles between 0.58 and 2.66 mm in length and 0.08 and 0.72 in diameter ( Fig. 5 View Figure 5 ). Axial layer sclerites with ornate spindles, lavender or purple, or irregular bodies up to 0.25 mm ( Fig 7D–F View Figure 7 ). Surface layer with small foliate and irregular clubs between 0.07 and 0.19 mm in length ( Fig. 6 View Figure 6 ). Polyp with anthocodial armature consisting of robust rods between 0.15 and 0.57 mm and also small ones between 0.08 and 0.18 mm ( Fig. 7A–C View Figure 7 ); little sclerite bodies and octoradiate forms in the tentacles. Longer tentacles when expanded, usually pale brown probably because of content of zooxanthellae.

There were two morphotypes in this species amongst all the examined material except for the type material. The ‘slender form’ is about 20 cm in height with branches up to 12 cm long. It has often few club sclerites mostly of small sizes ( Fig. 6A View Figure 6 ) and larger polyp rods ( Fig. 7C View Figure 7 ). Middle layer sclerites are robust ( Fig. 7A View Figure 7 ) and visible at the surface, which has a brown appearance in dry specimens. The ‘thick form’ has colonies about 40 cm in height ( Fig. 5C, D View Figure 5 ) with thick branches up to 2 cm in diameter near the base. Black coloured coenemchyme with the calyx aperture pale and about three orders of branching but most branches are longer than 20 cm. Both morphotypes have tubular and prominent calyces up to 0.5 mm in length with a semihermetic aperture and with the lower lip longer than the upper one as an enlarged lobule. Calyx tube whiter than the rest of the colony ( Fig. 4 View Figure 4 ). The type material is not well preserved and most of these features were not observed but they are mentioned in Bayer (1961). Another interesting feature of E. clavigera is the size of the extended polyps in comparison with other Euniceopsis species (e.g. Fig. 8E–I View Figure 8 ).

Distribution and habitat: Antilles, Central America, and the Caribbean coast of South America, probably widespread in Caribbean. Semi-exposed reef terraces and slopes between 10 to 30 m depths.

Material examined: USNM 50265 View Materials , holotype, (70% ETOH), Caribbean Sea, Netherlands Antilles, Curacao, Caracas Baai, col. Zaneveld J.S. & P.W. Hummelinck, 22.iv.1955, on chain buoy for 15+ years, submerged several metres deep . USNM 50076 View Materials , Paratype, Bermuda, North Rock , col. diver For E. Deichmann, 23.vii.1951, donor : MCZ, Harvard . USNM 100644 View Materials , Riding Rock Reef , Leeward terrace, 12 m , San Salvador, Bahamas, 15.viii.1999, col. J.A. Sánchez. USNM 97700 View Materials (32), Tesoro island, Rosario islands , Caribbean coast of Colombia, col. J.A. Sánchez & A. Ramirez, 16.ix.1992; fore-reef terrace 20 m ; ICN-MHN-CO-097 (B-38), Isla Fuerte, Banco Bushnell, Colombian Caribbean, Col. J. A. Sánchez, 4.x.1995, mixed coral zone 18 m. INV-CNID-385, (F-14), isla Fuerte, bajo ‘el bobito’, Caribbean coast of Colombia, 3.x.1995, col. J.A. Sánchez, marginal terrace 10 m. USNM 100646 View Materials , Riding Rock Reef, Leeward terrace, slope edge, 17 m , San Salvador, Bahamas, 15.viii.1999, col. J.A. Sánchez. ICN-MHN- CO-088 (U-60), Isla Narsa, Capurganá, Gulf of Urabá , Caribbean coast of Colombia, col. J. A. Sánchez, terrace edge 15 m. (30 cm in height) . ICN-MHN-CO- 075 (E-162), Albuquerque Cays, San Andrés and Providencia Archipelago, Colombian Caribbean, col. J.A. Sánchez, vi.1994, outer slope 20 m. INV-CNID- 386, (E-135), Courtown Cays (12°27′ 21.2″N, 81° 27′ 57.2″W), San Andrés and Providencia Archipelago, Colombian Caribbean, col. J.A. Sánchez,; fore-reef terrace 20 m. USNM 54910 View Materials , (70% ETOH), North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea; Jamaica, Portland Point (17° 35′ 54″N, 077° 21′ 48″W), St. No. 1220, 24– 27 m GoogleMaps , 6.vii.1970, Pillsbury R / V, University of Miami . USNM 97692 View Materials (24), isla Tesoro, islas del Rosario, Caribbean coast of Colombia, col. J.A.Sánchez & A.Ramirez, xii.1992; fore-reef terrace slope 25 m. USNM 92593 View Materials , Bahamas, Crooked island, 18 m , 30.ix.1994, col. Jenkins K.M., W. Fenical ( No. 6) .


( FIGS 2M, S, W View Figure 2 , 8A, G View Figure 8 )

Gorgonia calyculata Ellis & Solander, 1786: 95 (holotype: British Museum).

Eunicea calyculata: Bayer, 1961: 154 .

Description: Tall colonies up to 1.8 m in height with thick and long branches ( Fig. 8A, G View Figure 8 ). Branches cylindrical and flexible ranging between 6 to 20 mm thick. High polymorphism in branch thickness and calyx. Calyx either present or not, some with only projecting aperture borders, others prominent with hermetic seals or conic walls. Several colours: reddish ochre, beige, and dark ochre. Middle sclerite layer composed of transparent spindle sclerites of 0.6–2 mm in length sometimes curved and widened at middle. Axial layer sclerites pale violet spindles up to 0.25 mm length with a few but notable ornamentations ( Fig. 2S View Figure 2 ). Anthocodial sclerites numerous; wide collar with rod sclerites of about 0.1–0.5 mm length ( Fig. 2W View Figure 2 ).

Diagnostic features: The surface sclerites contain two discrete kinds of club sclerites. There are small and enlarged clubs with multiple and radial rows in the handle ending in a sharp head, reaching a length up to 0.12 mm ( Fig. 2M View Figure 2 ). In addition, torch clubs are present with just one row of ornamentations in the handle.

Comments: Because the different calyx morphotypes described above usually live in the same habitat, it is possible that this taxon is a complex of several species. The morphotype E. coronata described by Bayer (1961) is very likely to be a valid and different species. Notwithstanding the huge variation of Eunicea calyculata , the morphotype E. coronata does not match either the sclerites or the external variation of the former. Morphotype E. coronata ’s branches are significantly thinner than E. calyculata . The sclerites are quite different with larger anthocodial rods as well as club sclerites. This morphotype deserves a careful revision, hopefully including some sort of ecological information. I reviewed the type of the morphotype but new observations and material are needed from its geographical range (Florida, both Atlantic and Gulf Mexico).

Distribution and habitat: Caribbean province excluding some places from the West coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Fore-reef terraces and seaward reefs with moderate exposition to wave and currents between 10 and 30 m in depth.

Examined material: ICN-MHN-CO-090 (E-83), Albuquerque Cays (12° 12′ 07″N, 81° 50′ 43″W), Colombian Caribbean,, col. J.A. Sánchez, fore-reef terrace 18 m. USNM 97694 View Materials (26), Tesoro island , Rosario islands , Colombian Caribbean, col. J.A. Sánchez & A. Ramirez, 16.ix.1992; fore-reef terrace edge, mixed coral zone 15 m. USNM 97695 View Materials (27) Tesoro island , Rosario islands , Colombian Caribbean, col. J.A. Sánchez & A. Ramirez, 16.ix.1992; fore-reef terrace edge, mixed coral zone 15 m. INV-CNID-370 (E-85), Bolivar Cays (Courtown) (12° 24′ 25″N, 81° 29′ 24″W), Colombian Caribbean, 24.v.1995, leeward terrace; col. J.A. Sánchez. INV-CNID-369 (F-1), Isla Fuerte, bajo ‘el bobito’, Colombian Caribbean, 3.x.1995, col. J.A. Sánchez, marginal terrace 10 m. USNM 51741 View Materials , Hipotype, Florida, Soldier Key, col. Bayer F.M., 10.x.1960. USNM 87107 View Materials , Gulf Of Mexico , United States, Florida, Cape Sable, (25° 17′ 32″N, 81° 39′ 49″W) 13 m, col. LGL Ecological Research Associates , 15.v.1984, Suncoaster R / V, Expedition Southwest Florida Shelf , Minerals Management. USNM 50079 View Materials , Bermuda, col. Deichmann E., 1951, donor: Museum Comp. Zool. Harvard. USNM 51981 View Materials , Bermuda, Bermuda Island, Southampton, South Shore, 24–27 m, col. Tucker T., 3.ix.1960, donor: Peterson L.W GoogleMaps .


Museum of Comparative Zoology


Departamento de Geologia, Universidad de Chile


Royal British Columbia Museum - Herbarium


Tavera, Department of Geology and Geophysics














Eunicea clavigera

Sánchez, Juan Armando 2009

Eunicea sp. 1

Sanchez JA & Wirshing H 2005: 515

Eunicea clavigera

Bayer FM 1961: 147

Eunicea calyculata: Bayer, 1961: 154

Bayer FM 1961: 154

Gorgonia calyculata

Ellis J & Solander D 1786: 95