Common name: White telesto
Scientific name: Carijoa riisei (Duchassaing y Michelotti, 1860)
Description: white color polyps with branched stems from white to pale pink. The octocoral is conformed of dense, branched, and entangled colonies, with white prominent polyps. Often, the stems are encrusted or covered with algae, sponges, and other organisms such as the sponge Mycale (Carmia) microsigmatosa recorded in the photograph.
Size: the length of the colonies can attain from 10 to 25 cm height, though it has been observed some colonies, probably entangled, close to one meter of length.
Habitat and behavior: it is considered a fouling organism which lives in a variety of habitats and substrate types. It can be abundant in rocky bottoms, piers, and groins. It is a common species in shipwrecks and other sort of artificial reefs, to a depth of no more than 60 meters. It is also observed in Rhizophora mangle (red mangrove) roots. Frequently is the first octocoral recorded in new artificial habitats. In favorable conditions, it has an explosive growth which can displace or remove its competitors, and occupy any available space. It feeds on zooplankton; its fecundity is high with a constant reproduction during the year.
Distribution: the octocoral is distributed in the West Atlantic, the Caribbean until Bahia in Brazil. Also in Hawaii and the Indo-Pacific. In Colombia, it has reported from Capurganá (Urabá) to La Guajira in the Caribbean, and in some areas of the Pacific such as Gorgona and Malpelo Islands. In the artificial reefs of the Gulf of Morrosquillo is common and abundant with a frequency of almost 100 % in the structures. In Pozos Colorados Bay is present in the 80 % of the 12 artificial reefs deployed.
Uses: aquarium commerce and souvenirs.
Conservation status: Red book Colombia: not assessed; IUCN: not assessed; CITES: not assessed.