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Leather coral

Sarcophyton spp.

Description: Named for their appearance, which can resemble a baseball glove, the Leather coral, or Toadstool coral is found in various shades of brown, green or yellow with white or gold polyps. They have spiny skeleton elements embedded in their tissue to give it support. They can have short or long tentacles and stalks of different lengths or no stalks. It can be difficult to identify leather corals because many of them are similar in appearance. As they grow older, they develop a folded appearance.

Size: A single colony can reach a size of three feet (1 m) across.

Behavior: They are a surrogate host to clownfish and can let off a chemical to ward off other corals for the same territory.

Diet: They get their nutrients from zooxanthelia a type of marine algae. They also eat tiny animals and tiny plants drifting by in the water.

Reproduction: The coral will release sperm and eggs when the waters become warm by uniting together and grow into larvae. The larvae is left alone to swim off and establish a new colony. Another way is when the weather is rough and a piece of the coral breaks off and when polyps bud it will create a new colony.

Habitat/range: The leather coral is found in warm parts of the Pacific Ocean and Red Sea along reef
flats, lagoons and shallow waters with strong movements.

Status: Not listed on the IUCN Red List.