Species of the month
Zigzag Stony Coral
Some facts on this coral:
Height: 30 to 50 cm.
Depth range: 80 to 2000 m.
Range: Worldwide outside of polar seas.
Diet: Plankton and suspended organic particles.
First described: By the Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus in 1758.
Madrepora oculata doesn't like to follow straight lines, but prefers to zigzag. It is one of the deepest reef building stony corals in the world, known to occur as deep as 2000 meters. Colonies are distinguished by the zig-zag appearance of their branches. The species is quite variable in its branch tendency, its texture and color and other aspects, even within the same colony. It is bushy, growing in small colonies that form thickets, creating fan-shaped matrices. It has thick skeletal parts that grow in a lamellar pattern. As its skeleton is fragile and unable to sustain a large framework, it is usually found among stronger corals that offer protection. Madrepora oculata produces large amounts of mucus that is extracellular or outside the cell membranes. This has a protective capacity to shield the skeleton from attacks of destructive pests. The genus Madrepora has 14 species and belongs to the order Scleractinia, or "Stony Corals", which contains approximately 1400 recognized species partitioned into 27 families.
See also: Species of previous months