stony coral

ecosystems coral reef

diverse underwater ecosystems held together by calcium carbonate structures secreted by corals. Coral reefs are built by colonies of tiny animals found in marine waters that contain few nutrients. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, which in turn consist of polyps that cluster in groups. The polyps belong to a group of animals known as Cnidaria, which also includes sea anemones and jellyfish.

The Crown-of-Thorns Sea Star, Acanthaster planci

“[…] is a large, multiple-armed starfish (or sea star) that usually preys upon hard, or stony, coral polyps (Scleractinia). The crown-of-thorns sea star receives its name from venomous thorn-like spines that cover its upper surface, resembling the Biblical crown of thorns. It is one of the largest sea stars in the world.

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Some fun facts about the newly designated Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument

• This monument is 4,913 square miles, nearly the size of Connecticut.
• It is 150 miles from the coast of Cape Cod.
• The area covers 1.5 percent of U.S. federal waters on the East Coast.
• Hundreds of species have been identified in the Atlantic canyons and seamounts, including stony corals, black corals, soft corals, sea pens, anemones, and sponges.
• The four underwater mountains (or “seamounts”), the only ones in U.S. Atlantic waters, rise as high as 7,000 feet above the ocean floor, higher than any mountain east of the Rockies.
• Over 600 species were identified on just one of the seamounts (Bear seamount).
• Recent research into the winter feeding grounds of Atlantic puffins in the Gulf of Maine found that they migrate to the waters above the canyons and seamounts.
• Whales and dolphins congregate at the continental shelf break above the canyons to feed on abundant prey in these nutrient-rich waters.

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. 

Classification 

Animalia-Cnidaria-Anthozoa-Scleractinia-Faviidae-Diploria-D. labyrinthiformis

Image: Janderk

“Mustard Hill Coral” (Porites asteroides)

Also known as the yellow porites, the mustard hill coral is a species of colonial stony coral from the family Poritidae, which occurs in shallow waters on reefs in the tropical west Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Like other coral colonies, the colonies of P. asteroides are carnivorous and will feed at night for various zooplankton and bacteria using their stinging nematocysts to dispatch them. 

Classification

Animalia-Cnidaria-Anthozoa-Hexacorallia-Scleractina-Poritidae-Porites-P. asteroides

Image: unknown

Leaf Plate Montipora (Montipora capricornis)

…also sometimes known as the Vase Coral or Cap Coral, the leaf plate coral is a species of small poly Acroporid stony coral which is common in the Indian and Pacific oceans, and in reefs in the Red Sea. Leaf Plate Montipora typically inhabit the top half of the reef where photosynthesis can occur as they rely partially on zooxanthellae for nourishment. 

Classification

Animalia-Cnidaria-Anthozoa-Scleractinia-Acroporidae-Montipora-M. capricornis

Image: Grendelkhan