I’ve been sharing some of my images from my recent trip to the Arabian Sea recently, mainly fish and invertebrates, but I thought it was about time to share some images of the amazing soft corals found on the reefs there.
Many of the reefs off the coast of Oman are as yet unexplored, so diving in the region can mean you see reefs few people, if anyone, have ever seen before. I hadn’t expected such a large variation between reefs, with some almost devoid of soft corals and others entirely dominated by them, despite what would appear to be similar depths and conditions.
By far the most attractive sites were those where soft corals held sway. I imagine the interplay of currents and a steady supply of planktonic food was responsible for some of the densest stands of softies I’d ever seen.
In the image above you can see a few specimens of Dendronephthya, looking quite unusual (to me at least) with paler ‘stems’ than I’m used to seeing from my experiences in the Red Sea. I’ve also managed to snap, entirely by accident I might add, a specimen of Chaetodon pictus, a fish limited in range to this region.
In the picture above, there’s so much going on, with a wealth of invertebrate species: sponges, featherstar, lace corals, and of course, some stunningly-colored Dendronephthya. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen any with such a vivid red coloration before.
In this picture you can see a similar species composition, but look closely and you’ll see some Tubastraea, and again, entirely by accident, an Oman Hawkfish (Cirrhitichthys calliurus) another species limited by range to the Arabian peninsula.