Common Name(s): Tayrona sea rod
Colony Form: Bushy or monoplanar colonies, with evenly spaced dichotomous branches; to 1.3 m tall.
Axis: Cylindrical to elliptical in cross-section
Branches: Thin and irregularly bent, 3-5 mm thick, tapering towards tips.
Apertures: Small, uniformly distributed, with calices low, mound-like, with projecting lower lip and noticeable upper lip.
Color: Gray-brown to light ochre. Brown polyps.
Sclerites: Polyp armature of ornate sclerites (0.14-0.32 mm long) and little flat rods (0.06-0.12 mm). Axial layer: diverse array of ornate, usually purple, forms of capstans and spindles, to 0.11-0.17 mm long. Middle layer: blunt spindles with clear dark core under light microscope, usually <1 mm long. Surface layer: tiny foliate to torch-like clubs with short handle (shortest among Eunicea species.
Habitat: Shallow semi-exposed reefs, leeward terraces and slope edges in 2-25 m depths. Found along near-shore hard bottom in Broward County, FL.
Distribution: South Florida and throughout the Caribbean Sea.
Notes: Externally resembles E. fusca but does not exhibit vegetative propagation. Club sclerites and axial layer are noticeably reduced. Axial sclerites of E. fusca are colorless to occasionally violet, with large ornamentation. E. tayrona was named after an extinct Colombian tribe, the Tayrona that used to live in the Sierra Nevada, Colombia, along the Caribbean coast.
References: Cairns (1977), Cobar et al. (1997), Sánchez (2009).
Similar Species: Eunicea fusca