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Gorgonacea is an order of sessile colonial cnidarian found throughout the oceans of the world, especially in the tropics andsubtropics. Gorgonians are also known as sea whips or sea fans and are similar to the sea pen, a soft coral. Gorgonians are closely related to coral. Individual tiny polyps form colonies that are normally erect, flattened, branching, and reminiscent of a fan. Others may be whiplike, bushy, or even encrusting. A colony can be several feet high and across but only a few inches thick. They may be brightly coloured, often purple, red, or yellow. Photosynthetic gorgonians can be successfully kept in captive reef aquariums. The name "Gorgonacea" is no longer considered valid and Alcyonacea is now the accepted name for the order.