Very special thanks for the first photos of Stylaster duchassaingi to Paul Humann (http://www.fishid.com).
The family of filigree corals (Stylasteridae) includes 26 genera. They live in all seas, preferably in caves and under overhangs.
Filigree corals are found worldwide from the tropics to Arctic and Antarctic waters and are also involved in the formation of tropical coral reefs as they form calcareous colonies.
The name "filigree coral" refers to the fine and easily fragile calcareous skeleton of the animals, which are not corals in the true sense of the word, but the sessile form of a cnidarian, which also includes jellyfish.
Many filigree corals are also quite colorful.
The zygote develops into a planula inside the gonophore and is later released as an actinula that metamorphoses into the polyp stage.
The sessile animal initially grows crustose and periodically changes shape by excreting aragonite and gradually forms coral-like structures, and can produce a mesh-like structure reminiscent of fan corals.
Filigree corals do not have a symbiotic relationship with energy-giving zooxanthellae, so they must capture fine zooplankton with their polyps.
Polyp equipment includes weir polyps and feeding polyps.
Divers should not touch the animals without gloves, as the animals are nettlesome, and can cause severe and itchy redness, especially in sensitive individuals.