Octocorallia (also known as Alcyonaria) is a subclass of Anthozoa comprising around 3,000 species of water-based organisms formed of colonial polyps with 8-fold symmetry. It includes the blue coral, soft corals, sea pens, and gorgonians (sea fans and sea whips) within three orders: Alcyonacea, Helioporacea, and Pennatulacea (Daly et al. 2007). These organisms have an internal skeleton secreted by mesoglea and polyps with eight tentacles and eight mesenteries. As with all Cnidarians these organisms have a complex life cycle including a motile phase when they are considered plankton and later characteristic sessile phase.
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