Some of the most beautiful sights in the Caribbean are the reefs that surround the islands of the region. Reefs are large areas comprised of many different types of corals growing together. These reefs form a diverse biome where corals can expand and propagate not only to facilitate their own survival, but that of hundreds of other species of marine life. Coral growth is crucial to the health of a reef ecosystem as a whole; areas that have suffered from coral bleaching and destructive fishing practices have become devoid of almost any living creatures, which has a profound impact on life on land as well as in the sea. That is why it is imperative that we continue to preserve our precious coral reefs in all of our planet’s oceans. Here are 5 of our favorite coral species that are readily found in the Caribbean Sea.
One of the most striking Caribbean coral species is the sea fan, or Gorgonian flabellum. The sea fan is composed of many long, flat tendrils which may twine together to form what looks like a fan, giving the species its name. The sea fan can be red, yellow, or purple in color.
Another unique Caribbean species is the clubbed finger coral, or Porites porites. The branches of this species, which are usually about one foot long, clump together, making the ends of the ‘fingers’ of the species look slightly clubbed. The tips of the polyps are white in color, while the body has a slightly more purple color.
The staghorn, or Oxycirrhites typus, is another beautiful Caribbean species. Staghorns can be found in amazing range of colors, including green, orange, yellow, pink, purple, brown or blue. The tips of the species are usually paler in color than the body. This species grows into hard, spiking branches that actually look somewhat like the horns of a deer, giving the species its name.
The star coral, or Galaxea fascicularis, may at first seem somewhat dull in comparison to the other brightly colored species of the area. The central area of the species is extremely hard, to protect against predators. This species, which grows to about one foot tall, is usually brown or dull-gold in color. However, along these brown areas are small rises that are white and star shaped, giving the species a truly elegant appearance.
The brain coral, or Diploria strigosa, is perhaps one of the most common Caribbean species. This particular brain species grows in a large dome shape. The species can grow to the amazing size of four feet in diameter. This particular brain species has a rather smooth appearance, but still displays the brain-like fissures which give the species its name.