Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Under construction

Porites (Poritidae)

Welcome to the Porites genus landing page. In this section, you will find general information about this genus and tips on how to identify it. If you are looking to confirm an observation made with the Coral Finder about a branching or plating Porites, use the image browser below to identify a genus similar to what you saw underwater. Then choose the following link for further comparison with a similar genus: Montipora.

The large, distinctive domes of massive Porites are a well recognised feature of coral reefs even to the occasional tropical snorkeler.  But there is much more to this genus than these rock-like mounds, with colonies ranging from extensive branching thickets to fragile plating forms.

Vital Statistics

  • 52 species
  • Coral Finder p. 3, 5c, 13, 16, 17, 22, 23
  • COTW – Vol 3 p. 276-345


Widespread in the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific.

ID Tips

Porites colonies may form branching, massive, encrusting and plating forms, and can be found in a wide range of reef  and rocky environments.  Massive forms tend to grow in a distinctive hillocky pattern that resembles bumpy rock.  Some species are adapted to protected lagoonal waters, whereas others exploit high wave action regions.

(slide show with photos of different forms of porites)

Corallites are very small, and generally possess well defined shared walls.  The septa running into the corallites make the centres look ‘full’.  There may be some patterning on the colony surface due to small skeletal bumps and ridges.  The widespread nature of this genus, large environmental range and small corallites mean that differentiating species underwater can be very difficult.

(slide show with photos of full corallites and skeletal structures)

Similar Genera

The Coral Finder lists Porites in three key groups with different growth forms of Montipora being the main candidate for confusion.

Similar genera to Porites (Coral Finder p3, 22, 23)

Branching and encrusting or plating forms of Porites can be confused with Montipora due to the similar sized, small corallites.  To differentiate between the two genera you need to look into the centre of the individual corallites: in Montipora the corallite centres tend to look like a dark hole, whereas in the centre of Porites corallites look solid or skeletal elements are obvious.  In addition, Porites do not possess the intricate surface structures of Montipora.

Branching and plating Porites

Similar genus: Montipora


The sight of brightly coloured Christmas tree worms boring into the surface of massive Porites colonies is common and distinctive.

Taxonomic Changes

Learning Resources

Coral Hub

  • Poritidae family page


Suggested Reading – Identification Tools

  • Anonymous. (2004). Porites Link, 1807, Galaxea Oken, 1815, Mussa Oken, 1815 and Dendrophyllia Blainville, 1830 (Anthozoa, Scleractinia): generic names conserved. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature, 61(Part 1), 51-53.
  • Claereboudt, M. R. (2006). Porites decasepta: a new species of scleractinian coral (Scleractinia, Poritidae) from Oman. Zootaxa(1188), 55-62.
  • Forsman, Z. H., Barshis, D. J., Hunter, C. L., & Toonen, R. J. (2009). Shape-shifting corals: Molecular markers show morphology is evolutionarily plastic in Porites. Bmc Evolutionary Biology, 9.
  • Forsman, Z. H., & Birkeland, C. (2009). Porites randalli: a new coral species (Scleractinia, Poritidae) from American Samoa. Zootaxa(2244), 51-59.
  • Davie, P. J., & Phillips, J. A. (2009). 13th International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay, Queensland. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum, 54(2), 1-118.
  • Nothdurft, L. D., & Webb, G. E. (2007). Microstructure of common reef-building coral genera Acropora, Pocillopora, Goniastrea and Porites: constraints on spatial resolution in geochemical sampling. Facies, 53(1), 1-26.
  • Reyes-Bonilla, H., & Carricart-Ganivet, J. P. (2000). Porites arnaudi, a new species of stony coral (Anthozoa : Scleractinia : Poritidae) from oceanic islands of the eastern Pacific Ocean. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 113(2), 561-571.
  • Veron, J. E. N. (1985). Corals of Australia and the Indo-Pacific. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.
  • Veron, J. E. N. (2000). Corals of the World. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Marine Science.
  • Veron, J. E. N. (2002). New species described in ‘Corals of the World’: Australian Institute of Marine Science.
  • Veron, J. E. N., & Pichon, M. (1982). Scleractinia of Eastern Australia.  Part 4, Families Poritidae. Australian Institute of Marine Science Monograph Series, V, 210.

Suggested Reading – Other Topics

  • Al-Rousan, S., Al-Shloul, R., Al-Horani, F., & Abu-Hilal, A. (2009). Heavy metal contents in growth bands of Porites corals: Record of anthropogenic and human developments from the Jordanian Gulf of Aqaba. Geochimica Et Cosmochimica Acta, 73(13), A32-A32.
  • Anson, J. Y., Richmond, R. H., & Martinez, J. A. (2009). Effects of Anthropogenic Stressors on Larval Recruitment in the Reef Coral Porites hawaiiensis. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 49, E194-E194.
  • Benzoni, F., Calcinai, B., Eisinger, M., & Klaus, R. (2008). Coral disease mimic: sponge attacks Porites lutea in Yemen. Coral Reefs, 27(3), 695-695.
  • Brown, D. P., Basch, L., Barshis, D., Forsman, Z., Fenner, D., & Goldberg, J. (2009). American Samoa’s island of giants: massive Porites colonies at Ta’u island. Coral Reefs, 28(3), 735-735.
  • Cheng, Y. R., Ho, J. S., & Dai, C. F. (2009). Orstomella yaliuensis n. sp., a xarifiid copepod (Crustacea) parasitic in the polyps of hump coral Porites lutea Milne Edwards & Haime off Taiwan. Systematic Parasitology, 74(1), 17-21.
  • Cole, A. J., Pratchett, M. S., & Jones, G. P. (2009). Coral-feeding wrasse scars massive Porites colonies. Coral Reefs, 28(1), 207-207.
  • Cooper, T. F., De ‘Ath, G., Fabricius, K. E., & Lough, J. M. (2008). Declining coral calcification in massive Porites in two nearshore regions of the northern Great Barrier Reef. Global Change Biology, 14(3), 529-538.
  • Glynn, P. W., Colley, S. B., Eakin, C. M., Smith, D. B., Cortes, J., Gassman, N. J., et al. (1994). Reef coral reproduction in the Eastern Pacific – Costa Rica, Panama, and Galapagos Islands (Ecuador). 2. Poritidae. Marine Biology, 118(2), 191-208.
  • McClanahan, T. R., Weil, E., & Maina, J. (2009). Strong relationship between coral bleaching and growth anomalies in massive Porites. Global Change Biology, 15(7), 1804-1816.
  • Smith, L. W., Wirshing, H. H., Baker, A. C., & Birkeland, C. (2008). Environmental versus genetic influences on growth rates of the corals Pocillopora eydouxi and Porites lobata (Anthozoa : Scleractinia). Pacific Science, 62(1), 57-69.
  • Strychar, K. B., Coates, M., & Sammarco, P. W. (2004). Loss of Symbiodinium from bleached Australian scleractinian corals (Acropora hyacinthus, Favites complanata and Porites solida). Marine and Freshwater Research, 55(2), 135-144.