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Colt coral

Cladiella sp.

Description: Colt corals are a soft coral that are usually cream to gray-white, however, they may have contrasting greenish-brown to brown polyps. The stubby, round to cone-shaped branches, that resemble fingers, grow out and upward from a pale white short stalk. These branches then fork and grow more branches, going out in all directions. They are slimy to the touch, a distinction of this genus, instead of the dry leathery feel like other leather corals.

Size: They can reach heights of 16 inches (41 cm).

Behavior: Colt corals form colonies.

Diet: They are photosynthetic and their major source of energy comes from the symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae, a marine algae. They also eat microscopic food particles out of the water column.

Senses: The nematocyst in the polyp’s tentacles are triggered to fire when the tiny sensors in their ends are stimulated physically or chemically.

Communication: In recent years scientists have observed and learned that corals communicate by releasing hormones know as pheromones to inform members of their species that they are ready to reproduce. When this ‘information’ is received by coral of the same species, gametes are released into the water simultaneously and fertilization takes place.

Reproduction: Soft corals can reproduce sexually or asexually. In the wild, Cladiella may release gametes (reproductive cells) into to the water or they may reproduce by fission or fragmentation.

Habitat/range: Colt corals are found along the elevated areas of the reef in the Indo- Pacific region.

Status: Not evaluated for IUCN Red List.