Plerogyra sinuosa

Commonly known as the grape, bladder, pearl or branching bubble coral Plerogyra sinuosa is a species of “bubble coral” that is distributed throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans, ranging from the Red Sea to the West and Central Pacific Ocean. P. sinuosa’s bubbles will vary in size and will increase/decrease depending on the amount of light available. With them being larger during the day and smaller at night, as it will make room for its tentacles to reach out to capture food.


Animalia-Cnidaria-Anthozoa-Scleractinia-Caryophylliidae-Plerogyra-P. sinuosa

Image: RevolverOcelot

Branching Flowerpot Coral - Alveopora sp.

They are not flowers but a coral colony. Alveopora (Scleractinia - Poritidae) is a genus of stony corals with at leas 27 nominal species, all of them native to the Indo-Pacific.

These corals create branched and massive skeletal formations, which are light and porous. They are generally clear coffee, cream or green, and can have shades of pale pink, yellow or blue. Their oral disc and the tips of the tentacles can be green or white. The contrasting color of the oral disc and tentacles give them the look of  flowers. 

Alveopora possess 12 tentacles and their corallites have 12 septa. Polyps may reach 30 cm long or more. The Branching Flowerpot Corals extend their polyps both during the day and partially at night.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©Daniel Stoupin | Locality: Australia


 The new species Echinophyllia tarae is described from the remote and poorly studied Gambier Islands, French Polynesia. Although the new species is common in the lagoon of Gambier Islands, its occurrence elsewhere is unknown. Echinophyllia tarae lives in protected reef habitats and was observed between 5 and 20 m depth. It is a zooxanthellate species which commonly grows on dead coral fragments, which are also covered by crustose coralline algae and fleshy macroalgae.


“Flower Pot Coral” (Genus: Goniopora)

Goniopora is a genus of colonial stony coral which occurs in lagoons and areas with turbid water conditions throughout the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and various tropical and subtropical areas of the Pacific Ocean. Like other colonial stony corals Goniopora spp. are carnivorous and will feed on passing invertebrates and organic matter which are caught by their stinging nematocysts. 



Images: Peter Young Gho, MD and Gdiggers

Raja Ampat (”Four Kings”)  in Indonesia is an archipelago comprising over 1,500 small islands surrounding the 5 main islands. People’s main occupation is fishing. They live in a small colony of tribes spreading around the area. Although traditional culture still strongly exists, people welcome visitors. Raja Ampat people are more like Ambonese than Papuan people and now some of them are Muslim and some of them are Christian. 1,508 fish species, 537 coral species (a remarkable 96% of all scleractinia recorded from Indonesia are likely to occur in these islands and 75% of all species that exist in the world), and 699 mollusk species, the variety of marine life is staggering. Some areas boast enormous schools of fish and regular sightings of sharks, such as wobbegongs. Raja Ampat Islands have at least three ponds containt unpoisoned jellyfish. It takes 6 hours flight from Jakarta to Sorong. Then, taking a boat to reach the islands is necessary.


Orange Cup Coral (Tubastraea coccinea)

Sometimes known as the sun coral, the orange cup coral is a species of Dendrophylliid stony coral which is native to the Indo-Pacific region. However, it has been introduced to much of the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea. T. coccinea will typically inhabit shaded vertical surfaces and caverns, and like other cnidarians are predators, feeding on passing food items.


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Images: Nick Hobgood and Alexander Vasenin

Grooved Brain Coral (Diploria labyrinthiformis)

..a species of Faviid stony coral which occurs in tropical areas in the west Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea. Grooved brain corals typically inhabit offshore reefs at depths ranging from 1 to 30 meters. Like other corals grooved brain corals are suspension feeders and feed mainly on zooplankton an bacteria, which are captured by polyps which extrude mesenterial tentacles. Diploria labyrinthiformis also host zooxanthella which produce nutrients for the coral via photosynthesis. 


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Image: Janderk

Montipora aequituberculata

…a species of “Rice Coral” (Montipora spp.) which is native to the Indo-Pacific region.  Its range extends from the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, through the Indian Ocean to Japan, the East China Sea, Australia and the west and central Pacific.M. aequituberculata is typically seen on the upper parts of reef slopes, where it is often one of the predominant species. Like many other coral species, M. aequituberculata  possesses zooxanthellae from which it obtains most of its nutritional needs. 

Although it is listed as least concern M. aequituberculata (like many other coral species) faces threats due to habitat destruction and rising sea temperatures which can cause coral bleaching. 


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Image: USFWS


Chinese Lettuce Coral

Mycedium elephantotus (Scleractinia - Pectiniidae), better known as Chinese Lettuce Coral, is a stony coral growing vertically in fragile, fan-like plates.

Colonies of M. elephantotus generally form tiers or whorl-like structures; corallites (the hard calcareous skeletons secreted by the individual polyps) are rounded, raised above the colony surface and have a distinctly ‘nose-shaped’ appearance. Colonies occur in attractive shades of green, purple and pink.

The polyps are extended only at night. They do not have tentacles, instead obtaining food by rapidly engulfing organic matter in a layer of mucus which coats the surface of the colony.

This coral is found on reefs in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean, around South-east Asia, Japan and the South China Sea, off the coast of Australia and in the west and central Pacific Ocean.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©Blogie |  [Top] - [Bottom]

Locality: Angel’s Cove, Talikud Island, Philippines (about 12m depth)


Boulder Star Coral (Montastrea annularis)

…a endangered species of “brain coral” (Faviidae) which occurs in the western Atlantic Ocean, where it is one of the most abundant and thoroughly studied species of reef-building coral species in the Caribbean. Like other coral species Montastrea annularis is both colonial and carnivorous, with polyps extending their tentacles at night to feed on passing organisms. 


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Image: Louiswray and Jstuby

Green Brain Coral - Goniastrea sp.

What you see in this photo is a live Green Brain Coral of the genus Goniastrea (Scleractinia - Faviidae), which is widespread in the Indo-Pacific forming massive mounds, thick encrusting colonies or may tend towards columns. Colonies are common in sub-tidal and some inter-tidal areas.

The corallites of Goniastrea vary from single-mouth, rounded with shared walls through to multiple-mouth, weakly meandering with thin shared walls.  Corallites are neat with fine, uniform septa (purple in the photo).

Technique: Phase contrast illumination

Reference: [1]

Photo credit: ©James H. Nicholson | Olympus BioScapes International Digital Imaging Competition (2011)

Pólipos de Montastraea cavernosa | ©Guillermo Jordán-Garza

The Great Star coral, Montastraea cavernosa, is a colonial coral species which grows in encrusting plate forms or, more usually, as massive rounded domes.

This species is present on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. It is widely distributed throughout the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, Bahamas and Bermuda and also found along a section of the west coast of Africa between Mauritania and Gabon.

Cnidaria - Anthozoa - Hexacorallia - Scleractinia - Faviidae - Montastrea - M. cavernosa 

Source and more information.

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Northern Ireland - Coral Caryophyllia smithii | ©Tony J. Gilbert

The Devonshire cup-coral, Caryophyllia smithii, is a small, colourful coral that looks remarkably like a sea-anemone. The whitish, cup-shaped external skeleton, the ‘corallum’, has many curved ridges and makes up the rocky cylindrical base in which the soft body part (the polyp) is held. The beautiful and delicate-looking polyp may be a range of colours, including red, pink, orange, white, green or brown, and a contrasting, more opaque colour zig-zags around the central, elongated, slit-like mouth. Up to 80 tentacles, arranged in three circles, rise from the soft body part, and each terminates in a prominent, spherical white or brown knob. 

The Devonshire cup coral can be found in south-west Europe, the Mediterranean, and in Britain, where it occurs around the south and west coasts, north to the Shetland Islands. The specimen shown was photographed in North Ireland, UK.

Cnidaria - Anthozoa - Scleractinia - Caryophylliidae - Caryophyllia - C. smithii

Source and more information.

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Tubastrea coccinea | ©Cláudio S. Feijó   (Ilha Grande, Angra dos Reis, RJ, Brasil)

Tubastrea coccinea (Scleractinia - Dendrophylliidae) is a large-polyp stony coral, known with the common name of Orange Cup Coral. Because the species grows in spherical forms and exhibits beautiful yellow or orange polyps, it is also known as Sun Coral.

This heterotrophic (azooxanthellate) coral is found in most or all of the Indo-Pacific region as a native species, however it also has been reported in the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, Brazil [1] and even New Zealand and West African region [2], where it is considered an invasive species.

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