Small Polyp Corals
Do you remember how to tell the difference between hard and soft corals? Remember it has to do with the number of tentacles… We explained that hard corals are based on a six fold symmetry meaning they have multiples of 6 tentacles while soft corals are based on an eight fold symmetry and will always have 8 tentacles!
Based on this simple rule it is quite easy to tell hard and soft corals apart. But what about those hard corals with long flowing polyps, the one’s you could easily mistake for soft corals?
To make things easier we’ve separated hard corals into two categories, small polyp corals, and large polyp corals. In this article, we will show you how to identify corals with small polyps.
It’s important to note that some corals don’t easily fit into these two categories and here we are just looking at this as a general rule to get you started with coral identification!
Small polyp corals have many polyps which are typically a few millimeters wide, these polyps are either embedded in the surface of the corals or extend just above the surface. The polyp lives inside the corallite, and when we are looking for small polyp we can judge the polyp size by also looking at the corallite.
The polyp is the living part of the coral that builds a hard calcium carbonate skeleton around its body for protection. Sometimes the polyps hid inside the skeleton and all you see are little dimples, divets, tubes, or cups, on the surface of the corals.
An example of a small polyp coral is Acropora. Watch this video to learn how to identify small polyp Acropora corals.
Another example of a small polyp coral is the Seriatopora birds nest coral and the Montipora encrusting and branching corals. If you’re new to this coral spotting series, make sure to check out our first article about recognizing coral growth forms.
Once you’re able to recognize the six unique growth forms of corals then you can learn to spot the difference between small and large polyp corals. And once you’ve mastered the basics of these skills you can move on to learning to spot unique coral genus like Acropora.
Want to know more about coral spotting or take a course with one of our training coral spotting instructors? Check out the Discover Coral Diving course at Murex resorts Sulawesi, or contact Ocean Gardener to learn about courses in Bali Indonesia.