Recent advances in deep-sea exploration technology coupled with an increase in worldwide biotic surveys, biological research, and underwater photography in shallow water marine regions such as coral reefs, has allowed for a relatively rapid expansion of our knowledge in the global diversity of many groups of marine organisms. This paper is part of the PLoS ONE review collection of WoRMS (the Worldwide Register of Marine Species), on the global diversity of marine species, and treats the pennatulacean octocorals, a group of cnidarians commonly referred to as sea pens or sea feathers. This also includes sea pansies, some sea whips, and various vermiform taxa. Pennatulaceans are a morphologically diverse group with an estimated 200 or more valid species, displaying worldwide geographic and bathymetric distributions from polar seas to the equatorial tropics and from intertidal flats to over 6100 m in depth. The paper treats new discoveries and taxa new to science, and provides greater resolution in geographic and bathymetric distributions data than was previously known, as well as descriptions of life appearances in life and in situ observations at diverse depth.
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