The corallites within a coral colony may be arranged in a variety of ways. Quickly identifying the predominant arrangement within the colony you are trying to identify, will provide you with a rapid way to narrow down your search.
Note use of the word ‘predominant’ in this sentence, sometimes a coral colony may exhibit more than one type of corallite arrangement. It is important to understand when looking at a coral colony that specific characteristics may not be repeated across the whole colony surface; make sure you scan the entire colony and then concentrate your efforts on the mid flanks of the coral. Why? Because often at the edges of the colony or on the apex, the corallites are affected by stressors such as competition from neighbouring corals, or exposure to high light levels. These stressors can modify corallite appearance, making identification of predominant characteristics difficult. For more in-depth information on the key steps to examining a coral colony have a read of the Coral Identification article.
(Photo of coral colony with mid flanks highlighted)
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- Veron, J. E. N. (2000). Corals of the World. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Marine Science.