Description[ edit ] An illustration of a Colpophyllia natans colony. Individual colonies of Colpophyllia natans are large and usually broadly domed, with curvature typically increasing with the size, and therefore age, of the colony. They grow up to two metres in diameter and morphologically earn the epithet "boulder". Colony shape may occasionally be flat-topped discs, particularly when younger. As a type of brain coral , the surface of the skeleton is a network of winding, curving valleys and ridges or walls that roughly resemble the familiar folding architecture of the mammal cerebrum. The ridge tops are indented with a single thin groove.
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This coral forms impressive domed boulders and is one of the most common corals in the Caribbean. Colpophyllia is a familiar species on shallow reef ledges and slopes. It can be found down to a depth of feet but often established much closer to the surface. Colpophyllia falls into the brain coral category, and there are few tricks to tell it apart from other species. First off Colpophyllia coral can grow into very large boulders, this is how it gets the common name boulder brain coral.
The ridges of Colpophyllia remind me of a millipede, and that is how I remember this species. To me the meandering ridges resemble the back of the millipede with the legs trailing into the valleys. The only known species of Colpophyllia is Colpophyllia natans. As this coral dies and the tissue recedes the skeleton is left adding rocky structure to the reef.
This why we consider C. Colpophyllia natans can be brown, tan, gray or white, while some colonies have dark ridges with vibrant green valleys. Most often ridges and valley will be of contrasting color. The Coral Diaries series is a list of corals we have seen while diving around the world. Nicole has taught scuba diving and managed dive centers around the world. Nicole has a Bachelors degree in Coastal Geography from the University of Victoria and is passionate about coral reefs.
Caribbean Coral Diaries: Colpophyllia natans