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Related FAQs:  TWA Invertebrates, Fishes of the Tropical West Atlantic, Tropical West Atlantic 2

Related Articles: Algae, Vascular Plants, Introduction to Fishwatcher's Guide Series Pieces/Sections, Lachnolaimus maxiumus/Hogfish, Hogfishes of the Genus Bodianus

Invertebrates, Algae and Vascular Plants of The Tropical West Atlantic: Bahamas to Brazil, Part 6

To: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9,


Bob Fenner

    Stony Corals

Family Acroporidae, Classification:

Staghorn corals come in many shapes and all colors... and these traits can be highly variable per species. Most are typically branched, table-top shaped, or encrusting per type, but colors often ran the gamut of browns, whites to pinks, blues, yellows, greens, even purple, depending on growing conditions. As with other true or stony corals (Order Scleractinia) real determination to the species level rests on close examination of corallites (individual polyp skeletons), biochemical and genetic study.

Acropora cervicornis, one of three Staghorn Corals of the tropical Western Atlantic. To eight feet in height, branches to more than an inch diameter. Cozumel image.

Acropora palmata, Elkhorn Coral. Found in the tropical West Atlantic. Established stands are 3-12 feet in diameter, with branches of 2-10 inch width. Occasionally "occurs" on live rock cultured for the trade. Pictured, a large stand in Belize and a budding colony in an aquarium. 
Acropora prolifera, the Fused Staghorn. Photos of a colony in Cancun, Mexico, and a "found" cultured specimen in captivity. 

Family Poritidae:

Porites asteroides Mustard Hill Coral. Form encrusting colonies in shallows to domes in calmer, deeper water. Three Bahamian specimens below. First two from the shallows are close ups. Cozumel close-up by Di.F at right.

Porites porites  (Pallas 1776), Finger Coral.  Smooth appearing branches with embedded polyps. Generally tannish to brown in color but may be blue, purple. Open polyp (nighttime) feeding detail at right in the Bahamas. A close up below and a very small colony in an Eelgrass bed in Belize and an larger colony in the Bahamas.

Family Meandrinidae: Easily mistaken for faviids, the widely separated species of Meandrinid corals can be discerned by their solid skeletal structure. With polyps closed their corallites septa are clearly seen as prominent, exsert (sticking out), of equal size and spacing. 

    Three genera (Eusmilia, Gyrosmilia and Montigyra) were moved by Veron (2000) to here from the Caryophylliidae. Four genera in the tropical West Atlantic, three in the eastern Indian Ocean and Red Sea.

Dendrogyra cylindrus, Pillar Coral. Upright, generally arising from sandy areas. Polyps typically open, feeding during the day. Cancun, Mexico image. 

Dichocoenia stokesii Mile Edwards & Haime 1848, Elliptical Star Coral. Flattened plates or boulder-shaped. Corallites spaced evenly. Bahamas photos of a plate-like colony, close-up of a typical shallow water and deeper, more-shaded colony. Bahamas pix.

Eusmilia fastigiata (Pallas 1766)   . Typically dome-shaped, phaceloid colonies with well-spaced tubular corallites. Found sparsely throughout the tropical West Atlantic. Extends tentacles at night. Images taken in Bahamas of small and large brown colonies at right, and Tobago and at night, feeding in Bonaire below.

Meandrina meandrites (Linnaeus 1758), Maze, Butter Print, Tan Brain Coral. Occurs as flattened and hemispherical colonies. Thin ridge at top of septa where plates come together. Right, at night in Bonaire. Bahamas photos below.

To: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15,

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