Fire Coral (Millepora)

 

 

The Fire Coral have the appearance of corals, but instead are more closely related to jellyfish and other   anemones.   They be found on reefs in the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and the Caribbean Sea. They form extensive outcrops on projecting parts of the reef where the tidal currents are strong. The Fire Coral are also abundant on upper reef slopes and in lagoons.

Touching one of these Fire corals would be a painful mistake.   The corals are usually a brownish orange, green or yellow and often have white tips.   These difference between these corals and other corals…they have tiny hair-like stingers on the corals, which are not easily visible.   The sting from these corals are extremely painful, but may not be felt until 5 to 30 minutes after contact and usually appear as a red rash or welt.

The Fire Corals is an marine organism that are encrusted in the coral like skeleton for protection.   The coral formations vary between species.   Some have a plate like appearance and some have coral branches appearance.

The tiny hair-like spines are also as a means of capturing prey.   The hairs sting small plank tonic animals that swim too close it and then is ingested by the fire coral through feeding pores.   As well as capturing prey, fire corals gain nutrients via their special symbiotic relationship with algae known as zooxanthellae. The zooxanthellae live inside the tissues of the coral, and provide the coral with food, which they produce through photosynthesis, and therefore require sunlight. In return, the coral provides the algae with protection and access to sunlight.

 

 

Information courtesy of wikipedia.org/wiki/fire_coral, reefkeeping.com,   scuba.about.com

Photo courtesy of www.tumblr.com