Map of the Southern African coastline showing some of the landmarks referred to in species range statements
Map of the Southern African coastline showing some of the landmarks referred to in species range statements

The list of marine cnidarians of South Africa is a list of saltwater species that form a part of the cnidarian (Phylum Cnidaria) fauna of South Africa. This list does not include the freshwater cnidarians. The list follows the SANBI listing on iNaturalist, and does not always agree with WoRMS for distribution.

Cnidaria (/nɪˈdɛəriə, n-/) is a phylum under kingdom Animalia containing over 11,000 species of aquatic animals found both in freshwater and marine environments, predominantly the latter.

Their distinguishing feature is cnidocytes, specialized cells that they use mainly for capturing prey. Their bodies consist of mesoglea, a non-living jelly-like substance, sandwiched between two layers of epithelium that are mostly one cell thick.

They mostly have two basic body forms: swimming medusae and sessile polyps, both of which are radially symmetrical with mouths surrounded by tentacles that bear cnidocytes. Both forms have a single orifice and body cavity that are used for digestion and respiration. Many cnidarian species produce colonies that are single organisms composed of medusa-like or polyp-like zooids, or both (hence they are trimorphic). Cnidarians' activities are coordinated by a decentralized nerve net and simple receptors. Several free-swimming species of Cubozoa and Scyphozoa possess balance-sensing statocysts, and some have simple eyes. Not all cnidarians reproduce sexually, with many species having complex life cycles of asexual polyp stages and sexual medusae. Some, however, omit either the polyp or the medusa stage.

Cnidarians were formerly grouped with ctenophores in the phylum Coelenterata, but increasing awareness of their differences caused them to be placed in separate phyla. Cnidarians are classified into four main groups: the almost wholly sessile Anthozoa (sea anemones, corals, sea pens); swimming Scyphozoa (jellyfish); Cubozoa (box jellies); and Hydrozoa (a diverse group that includes all the freshwater cnidarians as well as many marine forms, and has both sessile members, such as Hydra, and colonial swimmers, such as the Portuguese Man o' War). Staurozoa have recently been recognised as a class in their own right rather than a sub-group of Scyphozoa, and the highly derived parasitic Myxozoa and Polypodiozoa were firmly recognized as cnidarians in 2007.

Most cnidarians prey on organisms ranging in size from plankton to animals several times larger than themselves, but many obtain much of their nutrition from dinoflagellates, and a few are parasites. Many are preyed on by other animals including starfish, sea slugs, fish, turtles, and even other cnidarians. Many scleractinian corals—which form the structural foundation for coral reefs—possess polyps that are filled with symbiotic photo-synthetic zooxanthellae. While reef-forming corals are almost entirely restricted to warm and shallow marine waters, other cnidarians can be found at great depths, in polar regions, and in freshwater.

Recent phylogenetic analyses support monophyly of cnidarians, as well as the position of cnidarians as the sister group of bilaterians. Fossil cnidarians have been found in rocks formed about 580 million years ago, and other fossils show that corals may have been present shortly before 490 million years ago and diversified a few million years later. However, molecular clock analysis of mitochondrial genes suggests a much older age for the crown group of cnidarians, estimated around 741 million years ago, almost 200 million years before the Cambrian period as well as any fossils. (Full article...)

Class Anthozoa, subclass Hexacorallia

Further information: Anthozoa and Hexacorallia

Order Actiniaria, suborder Endocoelantheae

Further information: Actiniaria Endocoelantheae

Family Halcuriidae

Further information: Halcuriidae

Suborder Nynantheae, infraorder Athenaria

Further information: Nynantheae and Athenaria

Family Edwardsiidae

Further information: Edwardsiidae

Family Halcampidae

Further information: Halcampidae

Family Haloclavidae

Further information: Haloclavidae

Infraorder Thenaria

Further information: Thenaria

Superfamily Acontiaria, family Acontiophoridae

Further information: Acontiaria and Acontiophoridae

Family Aiptasiidae

Further information: Aiptasiidae

Family Hormathiidae

Further information: Hormathiidae

Family Isophellidae

Further information: Isophellidae

Family Nemanthidae

Further information: Nemanthidae

Family Sagartiidae

Further information: Sagartiidae

Superfamily Endomyaria, family Actiniidae

Family Actinodendronidae

Family Aliciidae

Family Condylanthidae

Family Liponematidae

Family Stichodactylidae

Superfamily Mesomyaria, family Actinostolidae

Suborder Ptychodacteae

Family Preactiidae

Superfamily Actiniaria incertae sedis, family Metridiidae

Order Antipatharia

Family Antipathidae

Order Ceriantharia, suborder Spirularia

Family Cerianthidae

Order Corallimorpharia

Family Corallimorphidae

Family Discosomatidae

Order Scleractinia

Family Acroporidae

Family Agariciidae

Family Caryophylliidae

Family Coscinaraeidae

Family Dendrophylliidae

Family Euphylliidae

Family Fungiidae

Family Lobophylliidae

Family Merulinidae

Family Mussidae, subfamily Faviinae

Family Plesiastreidae

Family Pocilloporidae

Family Poritidae

Family Psammocoridae

Scleractinia incertae sedis

Scleractinia incertae sedis

Order Zoantharia, suborder Brachycnemina

Family Sphenopidae

Family Zoanthidae

Suborder Macrocnemina

Family Parazoanthidae

Subclass Octocorallia

Order Alcyonacea, suborder Alcyoniina

Family Alcyoniidae

Family Nephtheidae

Family Nidaliidae

Family Parasphaerascleridae

Family Xeniidae

Order Calcaxonia

Family Chrysogorgiidae

Family Ellisellidae

Family Isididae

Family Primnoidae

Subrder Holaxonia

Family Acanthogorgiidae

Family Gorgoniidae

Family Keroeididae

Family Plexauridae

Suborder Scleraxonia

Family Anthothelidae

Subfamily Melithaeinae

Suborder Stolonifera

Family Clavulariidae

Family Tubiporidae

Order Pennatulacea

Family Chunellidae

Family Echinoptilidae

Family Scleroptilidae

Suborder Sessiliflorae

Family Anthoptilidae

Family Funiculinidae

Family Kophobelemnidae

Family Protoptilidae

Family Umbellulidae

Family Veretillidae

suborder Subsessiliflorae

Family Halipteridae

Family Pennatulidae

Family Virgulariidae

Class Cubozoa

Order Carybdeida

Family Carybdeidae

Family Tamoyidae

Order Chirodropida

Family Chirodropidae

Family Chiropsalmidae

Class Hydrozoa, subclass Hydroidolina

Order Anthoathecata, suborder Aplanulata

Family Candelabridae

Family Corymorphidae

Family Tubulariidae

Suborder Capitata

Family Asyncorynidae

Family Cladocorynidae

Family Family Cladonematidae

Family Corynidae

Family Halimedusidae

Family Milleporidae

Family Moerisiidae

Family Pennariidae

Family Porpitidae

Family Solanderiidae

Family Sphaerocorynidae

Family Teissieridae

Family Zancleidae

Family Zancleopsidae

Capitata incertae sedis

Capitata incertae sedis

Capitata incertae sedis

Suborder Filifera

Family Bougainvilliidae

Family Bythotiaridae

Family Cytaeididae

Family Eudendriidae

Family Hydractiniidae

Family Hydrichthyidae

Family Magapiidae

Family Oceaniidae

Family Pandeidae

Family Proboscidactylidae

Family Rathkeidae

Family Stylasteridae

Order Leptothecata

Further information: Leptothecata

Family Aequoreidae

Further information: Aequoreidae

Family Blackfordiidae

Further information: Blackfordiidae

Family Campanulinidae

Further information: Campanulinidae

Family Campanulariidae

Further information: Campanulariidae

Family Eirenidae

Further information: Eirenidae

Family Hebellidae

Family Laodiceidae

Family Lineolariidae

Family Lovenellidae

Family Malagazziidae

Family Mitrocomidae

Family Phialellidae

Family Sertulariidae

Family Syntheciidae

Family Thyroscyphidae

Family Tiarannidae

Family Tiaropsidae

Superfamily Plumularioidea, family Aglaopheniidae

Family Haleciidae

Family Halopterididae

Family Kirchenpaueriidae

Family Lafoeidae

Family Plumulariidae

Order Siphonophorae, suborder Calycophorae

Family Abylidae, subfamily Abylinae

Subfamily Abylopsinae

Family Clausophyidae

Family Diphyidae, subfamily Diphyinae

Subfamily Sulculeolariinae

Family Hippopodiidae

Family Prayidae, subfamily Amphicaryoninae

Subfamily Nectopyramidinae
Subfamily Prayinae

Family Sphaeronectidae

Suborder Cystonectae

Family Physaliidae

Family Rhizophysidae

Suborder Physonectae

Family Agalmatidae

Family Apolemiidae

Family Forskaliidae

Family Physophoridae

Family Pyrostephidae

Subclass Trachylinae

Order Limnomedusae

Family Olindiidae

Order Narcomedusae

Family Aeginidae

Family Cuninidae

Family Solmarisidae

Order Trachymedusae

Family Geryoniidae

Family Halicreatidae

Family Rhopalonematidae

Class Scyphozoa

Order Coronatae

Family Atollidae

Family Nausithoidae

Family Periphyllidae

Order Carybdeida

Family Carybdeidae

Order Rhizostomeae, suborder Kolpophorae

Family Cassiopeidae

Family Cepheidae

Suborder Daktyliophorae

Familu Catostylidae

Family Rhizostomatidae

Order Semaeostomeae

Family Cyaneidae

Family Pelagiidae

Family Ulmaridae

Class Staurozoa

Order Stauromedusae, suborder Cleistocarpida

Family Depastridae

Family Lipkeidae



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