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Green Leaf Coral

Montipora capricornus

ON EXHIBIT:  Boneless Beauties at Ocean Journey

Green Leaf Coral

Montipora are a type of small polyp stony coral (SPS for short).  In fact this species has some of the smallest polyps in this grouping, making it appear uniformly fuzzy and giving it one of its other common names, velvet coral.

The corals can reproduce both sexually and asexually. In the wild sexual reproduction normally coincides with a lunar cycles and tides.  Gametes are released into the water, resulting in a fertilized egg, which grows into free-swimming larva or planula.  Eventually the planula settles and attaches to a piece of substrate. The settled planula, or plackter, develops into a tiny polyp that begins to secrete the calcium carbonate skeleton. As it continues to grow, this single polyp will give rise to an entire colony of polyps through budding, a form of asexual reproduction.  In the wild Montiporas colonies can also spread from breakage due to storms, which is often referred to as fragmentation or “fragging.”

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About This Animal

SIZE: Variable

RANGE: Australia, Indo-Pacific region, Red Sea and Indian Ocean; found on Great Barrier Reef

HABITAT: Shallow lagoons, sometimes in sea grass beds

DIET: Some small plankton, but primarily photosynthetic deriving much of it food from symbiotic algae (zooxanthallae)