The ocean floor is a treasure trove of untapped creatures and life yet to explore. That said, the discovered part of this underwater world is home to many mind-boggling and breathtaking wonders that give the ocean and seas its ethereal beauty. From anemones that are symbiotic with living creatures to underwater forests, here are some fascinating marine plants that come in different categories, shapes and species.

Sea Whip

Soft octocoral
Grows up to 3ft in height

Red whip found on coral reef

Just like its name, Sea Whip is a bunch of “whip” like soft coral that comes in bright varied colors of purple, yellow, red, and white. They are known to be soft corals because they lack the calcium carbonate found in hard corals. The  “whip” of these Sea Whips contains many polyps (cylindrical shapes with tentacles) on a single stem. These polyps are responsible for bringing in food which is plankton. The sea whip grows around 3ft in height and can be found in shallow water across the globe.

Anemone for Clownfish

Has powerful stings
Home for clownfish

A Clownfish taking shelter in Anemone
A Clownfish taking shelter in Anemone

Thanks to “Finding Nemo” this particular sea plant has become more known around the general public. Although a “plant”, a sea anemone has tentacles that cause powerful stings to whatever creature comes in contact with it and there is one fish in the entire ocean that can withstand that sting – the clownfish. They form a fascinating symbiotic relationship where the anemone keeps predators away and the clownfish exchange nutrients with the plant. The sea anemone can be found in both shallow and deep waters worldwide.

Deep  Water Glowing Corals

Luminescent
Glows to attract sunlight

Glowing corals in deep underwater
Glowing corals in deep underwater

Just like many fluorescent plants and animals on land, underwater has some fascinating sights with glowing corals. Although glowing corals in shallow water have been understood by scientists for years as to why they light up, the glow of deepwater corals has only been revealed quite recently and it turns out it is for the exact opposite of shallow water glowing corals. While shallow-water glowing corals light up to avoid excessive sunlight, deep water glowing corals turn on the brightness to get as much sunlight as possible. This is so that the zooxanthellae (tiny algae) can provide nutrients for these corals through photosynthesis.

Acropora Coral

Supports the coral reefs
Rarest color among sea plants

Arcopora aka Purple Coral  found abundantly on coral reefs
Arcopora aka Purple Coral found abundantly on coral reefs

Acropora coral or also known as Purple Coral is the type of coral that grows abundantly in coral reefs. They are the first type of corals that divers see. Their color ranges from the darkest purple to the lightest lavender shades and is the rarest among the sea plants to find. These stunning beauties are also the reef-building species which means they create the backbone for coral reefs providing home and habitat for much other fish and sea life.

Kelp

Known for creating an underwater forest
Can grow up to 200 ft in height and has been around 23 million years

Kelp forest underwater
Kelp forest underwater

Some of us might know this as a lone, limp, and dark seaweed that rolls up on the beach every now and then only to be tossed aside. But beneath the water, these leafy greens create a whole other world. Towering at an average height of 100ft (30m), these dark plants known as Kelp creates a dense, underwater forest. It is thought to have appeared in the oceans around 23 million years ago with evidence of its use by humans dated back to the Middle Stone Age.  Kelp is also used for many things from commercial purposes to a renewable energy source for yielding methane.

Giant Green Anemone

Resembles the Anastasia flower on land
Has bright green color due to photosynt9hesis organism living in it

Giant green anemone (part of the anemone family)
Giant green anemone (part of the anemone family)

Credit: Stan Shebs CC-BY-SA-3 via Wikimedia Commons

Like their carnivorous family, Giant Green Anemones are bright and attractive amongst the many species found underwater. They bear a strong resemblance to the Anastasia flower and the anemone’s bright green color occurs due to both photosynthetic organisms living in it as well as its own color. They are often found on rock crevices and some coral reefs.

Scroll algae

Grows in curl-like pattern
Also used in aquariums for freshwater fishes

Scroll algae in low tide
Scroll algae in low tide

Unlike the regular type of algae, these white pretties are one interesting form of algae. Scroll algae or Potato algae is a beautifully ringed plant that is generally found in low tide lines. Since Scroll algae can survive easily with a little bit of strong sunlight, they are also used as aquarium plants for freshwater fishes.

Waterwheel plant

Underwater venus flytrap
Free-flowing without any roots

Carnivorous waterwheel plant that is usually free floating
Carnivorous waterwheel plant that is usually free floating

A carnivorous, underwater snap trap – the waterwheel plant traps (in a similar style to Venus flytraps) and digests small invertebrates that land on its hair-like structure. Unlike typical sea plants that are fixed on one spot, these cunning greens are free-floating in the waters of Asia, Africa, and Europe. These plants also produce flowers that pop up above the water for a short while before sinking back beneath for seed production.

Bubble Tip Anemone

Needs bright sunlight
Changes shape to grab prey

Bubble tip anemone (part of the anemone family)
Bubble tip anemone (part of the anemone family)

One of the most beautiful anemones that decorate the coral reef, bubble-tip anemone comes in many colors including pink, red, and green. They nourish under bright sunlight with the help of zooxanthellae. The bubble tip anemone is carnivorous in nature. When they prepare to feed, this member of the anemone stretches its sweeper tentacles to grab their prey. Once they have latched onto their food, they shorten again and go back to their regular bubble-like appearance.

Sea Fan

Carnivorous living nets
Has medicinal properties

Sea fan on coral reef
Sea fan on coral reef

Sea fans are giant living nets that are commonly found across the reefs. They belong to the family of corals and are composed of numerous polyps that grow and branch out in a very fan-like shape. One interesting fact about them is that their shape is influenced by the water itself. They grow broad and large in shallow waters and tall and rigid in deep waters. Due to their antibacterial qualities, dolphins are often found rubbing against the sea fans. This has triggered an interest in scientists as they believe the same antibacterial qualities could be of medical help to humans.

Bubble Coral

Nocturnal corals
Has a soft grape upper part and hard bottom

Bubble corals found in gentle water currents
Bubble corals found in gentle water currents

Bubble Coral or Grape Coral loves the gentle currents of the underwater and grows to become stony corals with an eye-catching appearance. They are usually soft on top and stony underneath. They feed on plankton by extending their tentacles at night.

Sun Coral

Very invasive
Grows on shipwrecks

Sun corals usually found on shipwrecks and hard coral reefs
Sun corals usually found on shipwrecks and hard coral reefs

Credit: Lucas Thompson CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 via Flickr

Ironic to its name, Sun Corals don’t need much sunlight to survive. Then how did they get the name? Because of the bright orange, yellow polyps that give it a very sunshine-y look. They are usually found in deep dark underwater and they can grow well on artificial surfaces like shipwrecks. The Sun Coral survives by feeding on plankton. These colorful corals were first discovered in 1943. Although they can be found abundantly in the Caribbean today, these pretty corals are an invasive species that made their way to the Caribbean sea by attaching themselves to the ballast of ships that came from the Indo-Pacific ocean.

Open Brain Coral

Endangered coral species
Can live up to 900 years

Open brain coral usually found on coral reefs
Open brain coral usually found on coral reefs

Credit: Stephane Duquesne CC-BY-NC-2.0 via flickr

Open Brain Corals are found in the waters of Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Australia. A threatened species, these strange looking corals are both solitary and colonial and can live up to 900 years! Unlike the other corals, the Open Brain Coral’s polyps are not separated by skeletal structures which makes it one of the most advanced coral species according to scientists.

Flowerpot Corals

Underwater bouquet
“Flowers” are actually tentacles that are nocturnal

Flowerpot corals as seen on coral reefs
Flowerpot corals as seen on coral reefs

Credit: Hectonichus CC-BY-SA-4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

If there is an underwater bouquet, it’s the Flowerpot Corals that adorn the rocky grounds of the sea. Mostly nocturnal, these Flowerpot Corals get their daisy-like appearance because of their six or more tiny tentacles that branch out at the end.   

Sea Pen

Alien-like appearance
Grows in deep waters under 20,000 ft

Sea Pen on shallow waters
Sea Pen on shallow waters

Credit: Chaloklum Diving CC-BY-SA-4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Resembling the antique quill pen, Sea Pens can survive as a single entity or as a colonial family. It is found both on shallow waters and sea floors as deep as 20,000 ft. It can grow up to 10ft long with hard skeletons and some are even luminescent, adding to their strange other-wordly appearence.