Caribbean Corals-The famous Fire Coral

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Doing this research is fun and we learn more and more the deeper we get into finding information for you, our divers.  We definitely learned something new in this research about the Fire Coral…and it may surprise you as well!

Fire corals are not true corals. Fire corals are members of the Cnidaria phylum, and although fire coral looks like coral, it is more closely related to jellyfish and other stinging anemones.

Fire corals have a bright yellow-green and brown skeletal covering and are widely distributed in tropical and subtropical waters. Divers often mistake fire coral for seaweed, and accidental contact is common. The very small nematocysts on fire corals contain tentacles that protrude from numerous surface pores. In addition, fire corals have a sharp, calcified external skeleton that can scrape the skin

Fire coral has several common growth forms; these include branching, plate and encrusting. Branching adopts a calcerious structure which branches off, to rounded finger-like tips. Plate adopts a shape similar to that of the smaller non-sheet lettuce corals; thereforeerect, thin sheets, which group together to form a colony. The latter; “encrusting”, is where the fire coral forms on the calcerious structure of other coral or gorgonian structures.

The gonophores in the family Milleporidae arise from the coenosarc (i.e. the hollow living tubes of the upright branching individuals of a colony) within chambers embedded entirely in the coenosteum (i.e. the calcareous mass forming the skeleton of a compound coral.

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