The Gordon La Praik

Soft Coral Collection

A unique collection of stunning images of soft corals and molluscs of the Keppel Islands and Southern Great Barrier Reef.

70 years of photos, now digitised

Australian citizen scientist and naturalist Gordon La Praik has been photographing, collecting, preserving and curating soft corals from Keppel Bay and the southern Great Barrier Reef since the 1950s.

He has digitised many of his photographs as part of his ‘Soft Coral Project‘.

Soft corals and molluscs

This gallery showcases his images of living soft coral specimens from his collection.

His superb images of mollusc specimens, from the Ovulidae family, are also included.

Gordon’s collection is unique because he has preserved the specimens with their polyps relaxed, just as he found them in the sea.

Iciligorgia species at Divided Island in Keppel Bay. © G La Praik.

Alcyonacea, Antipatharia and Ovulidae

The soft corals are from two orders, Alcyonacea and Antipatharia. The molluscs are from the family Ovulidae (order Littorinimorpha).

The coral’s beautiful, colourful and uniquely shaped branches and folds camouflage the molluscs, safe from predators, and give them a place to lay their eggs. 

Gordon La Praik captured these images either in situ on the Great Barrier Reef near Yeppoon, on Australia’s Capricorn Coast.

“Visualise a world of smoky grey and green, a place of filtered light, of ledges, and dark shadows, a deep and quiet place where swaying gardens of incredibly beautiful Alcyonarians and Antipatharia hide the innermost secrets of the world of the Ovulidae.”

— Gordon La Praik

View the main galleries.


Alcyonacea is an order of corals that do not produce calcium carbonate skeletons. They include the sea fans and sea whips.


Antipatharia is an order of soft corals recognised by their jet-black or dark-brown chitin skeletons. They are also known as ‘black corals’.

Ovulidae is a family of sea snails, or molluscs, that camouflage themselves on the branches and folds of soft corals, safe from predators.

About Gordon La Praik

A story of curiosity, improvisation, innovation, and an enduring passion that became a life-long obsession

Gordon La Praik diving