If you are learning to identify Stephanocoenia intersepta chances are you’ve mastered all the basics of coral ID. Stephanocoenia is an uncommon coral which can be easily overlooked or mistaken for other boulder or star corals.
Colonies are encrusting forming domes or mounds and the surface is smooth with sunken corallites. Around the rim of the corallite, there are distinct lines called septa.
One of the features to identify this coral is that the septa do not connect to the columella in the center of each corallite. In this picture, you can clearly see a tiny white dot in the center of the greenish corallite which is the columella.
Interesting fact, but don’t worry, there are easier ways to identify this coral.
Blushing Star Coral
The coral polyps are dark in color and typically extended during the day. When the coral is disturbed the polyps retract and the lighter color coral tissue below is exposed, making the coral appear to blush. You can see this in the photo below. Near the edges of the colony, darker polyps are retracted exposing the pale white tissue.
This is where the common name blushing star coral comes from. The easiest way to recognize this coral is by looking for the blushing white color with polyps retracted
Stephanocoenia intersepta can be found in the shallowest part of the reef down to 100m (325 feet).