Saturday, September 6, 2008

Great Star Coral

These are Great Star coral polyps. Since this photo was taken during daytime, they don't have their tentacles extended to catch food. I would love that. Just sit there and do my thing, and have food just float by. A cheeseburger floats by, OK, catch it and stuff it in my mouth, haha. These guys make me think of how Japanese subways are so crowded at rush hour.

Many sources say that coral polyps hide down in little holes. That couldn't be more wrong. Polyps are so soft-bodied it's hard to imagine. Their skeleton is formed underneath them, like people have bones inside them. And coral skeletons are sharp as razors. The lightest human touch pushes coral's flesh into their skeleton, causing much harm.

Polyps grow from one single baby polyp that, once old enough, "buds" little polyps on their edge. Sort of like how one little bit of grass spreads. They are always connected like a rug, and they share food and bodily fluids. This 'rug' of polyps lives covering the hard white part of the coral that you find for sale in some stores, ugh. Skeletons as ornaments?

Here's a photo of another coral that had some sort of sand dwelling critter move in close by. The sandy guy built a little mountain of sand that covered part of the coral colony. I happened by, and dug away the sand, uncovering the lower polyps that had smothered. This is a side-by-side comparison of the healthy polyps and their siblings' skeletons.

Here are the same polyps, ten weeks later. They're making babies, clones if you will. And some have their tentacles extended, waiting to catch passing food. The bare skeletons have been overgrown by algae.

The polyps are a little pale because the sea was too warm when the photo was taken.

Thanks for stopping by, time to go for a dive and see what I can find...

1 comment:

  1. Neat! Baby polyps...

    I like your reef banner at the top!