Diploria strigosa

Diploria strigosa

''Diploria strigosa'', the symmetrical brain coral, is a colonial species of stony coral in the family Faviidae. It occurs on reefs in shallow water in the West Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. It grows slowly and lives to a great age.
Common Brain Coral Coral reef forming on a sunken boat. Barbados,Diploria strigosa,Geotagged,brain coral

Appearance

The symmetrical brain coral forms smooth flat plates or massive hemispherical domes up to 1.8 metres in diameter. The surface is covered with interlinking convoluted valleys in which the polyps sit in cup-shaped depressions known as corallites. Each of these has a number of radially arranged ridges known as septae which continue outside the corallite as costae and link with those of neighbouring corallites. The ridges separating the valleys are smoothly rounded and do not usually have a groove running along their apex as does the rather similar grooved brain coral . The coral has symbiotic dinoflagellate alga called zooxanthella in its tissues and it is these which give the coral its colour of yellowish or greenish brown, or occasionally blue-grey. The valleys are often a paler or contrasting colour.
Brain Coral The lifespan of the largest brain corals is 900 years. 

Brain corals are found in shallow warm-water coral reefs in all the world's oceans. This species is found in tropical parts of the west Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, the southern tip of Florida, the Bahamas, Bermuda and the coasts of Central America.

Each head of coral is formed by a colony of genetically identical polyps which secrete a hard skeleton of calcium carbonate; this makes them important coral reef builders.

Brain corals extend their tentacles to catch food at night. During the day, they use their tentacles for protection by wrapping them over the grooves on their surface. The surface is hard and offers good protection against fish or hurricanes. 

To see brain coral feeding:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyLlXnasroY   
 Diploria,Diploria strigosa,Fall,Geotagged,Trunk Bay,U.S. Virgin Islands,brain coral

Distribution

The symmetrical brain coral grows in shallow parts of the Caribbean Sea, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Florida and Texas. It is probably the most widespread of the brain corals and not only occurs on reefs but also sometimes on muddy stretches of seabed where not many other corals flourish. It grows at depths down to about 40 metres .

The fossilised remains of ''Diploria strigosa'' have been found alongside those of other massive corals, ''Diploria clivosa'', ''Siderastrea siderea'' and ''Solenastrea bouroni'', in marine deposits in Río Grande de Manatí, Puerto Rico that date back to the Pleistocene.

Behavior

The symmetrical brain coral grows very slowly adding about 1 centimetre to its diameter in a year. This means that a large specimen over a metre across is at least a century old. In the day time the polyps retract inside their corallites but at night they extend their ring of tentacles and feed on zooplankton. The coral also benefits from the photosynthetic products produced by the zooxanthellae.

Habitat

The symmetrical brain coral grows in shallow parts of the Caribbean Sea, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Florida and Texas. It is probably the most widespread of the brain corals and not only occurs on reefs but also sometimes on muddy stretches of seabed where not many other corals flourish. It grows at depths down to about 40 metres .

The fossilised remains of ''Diploria strigosa'' have been found alongside those of other massive corals, ''Diploria clivosa'', ''Siderastrea siderea'' and ''Solenastrea bouroni'', in marine deposits in Río Grande de Manatí, Puerto Rico that date back to the Pleistocene.

References:

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Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionCnidaria
ClassAnthozoa
OrderScleractinia
FamilyFaviidae
GenusDiploria
SpeciesD. strigosa