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Big Blue Conservation - Hard Coral Growth Forms

Hard coral grows in a wide vari ety of shapes and sizes depending on amount of available light, wave movement and current. There are a huge amount of variations but the images and information below outlines the main ones.

Branching

These corals grow in a tree like shape with relatively long primary and secondary branches and small polyps. Often, damsel fish and hermit crabs can be found living within the branches of the branching coral.

Foliose/Turbinate

Grows in a vase-like formation, often resembling a flower and has small polyps.

Corymbose

Grows in lots small branching corals with the branches having many smaller offshoots.

Laminar

Grows in thin flat layered sheets with dense coral polyps.

Digitate

Similar to submassive but the shapes are more defined and often resemble a finger like structure but has no secondary branches like Corymbose or branching.

Massive

Grows in a spherical or hemispherical boulder like growth, with larger polyps.

Submassive

Similar to the massive but has a lumpier structure and smaller polyps.

Encrusting

Corals which grow on rocks or hard substrate and expand in diameter, not height.

Tabulate

A table-like structure made up of small, tightly packed branches.

Solitary

Singular corals that are made up of one large polyp, often mushroom shaped.