Monday, January 10, 2011

Brain Coral

Platygyra daedalea is one of the more common species of Corals referred to as "Brain Corals." All are members of the family Faviidae. This particular example is found in the tropical waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans. Brain Corals are so named because of their tendency to resemble an animal brain, with a spherical shapes and curving grooves. This particular species grows around 1m in diameter

(Image Source)
What we see as a Brain Coral is actually the hard protective exterior created by multitudes of tiny polyps. The polyps gain nurishment with help from microscopic zooxanthellae algae. The algae lives within the groves of the Coral, staying protected. In return, it provides the coral with energy rich molecules via photosynthesis. This important relationship requires that the Brain Coral live in shallow waters that sunlight is able to reach.

Brain Coral polyps are hermaphroditic, and each polyp is able to produce both sperm and eggs. Polyps can also reproduce asexually through budding, which means that a new organism grows directly from the parent before eventually splitting off. This particular species of Brain Coral is known to be semi-aggressive. It has tentacles that extend at night that are able to harm other Corals, allowing it to compete for space.

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