Antipatharians, also known as black corals or thorn corals, are an order of soft deep-water corals. These corals can be recognized by their jet-black or dark brown chitin skeletons, surrounded by the polyps (part of coral that is alive). Antipatharians are a cosmopolitan order, existing at nearly every location and depth, with the sole exception of brackish waters. However, they are most frequently found on continental slopes under 50 m (164 ft) deep. A black coral reproduces both sexually and asexually throughout its lifetime. Many black corals provide housing, shelter, food, and protection for other animals.
Black corals are carnivorous, with the coral's polyps allowing it to feed mostly on meiofauna such as zooplankton.