Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Free-living vs. Attached

Corals that are not attached to the bottom are described as free-living.  Corals may change between the two states as they grow.

Corals that are not attached to the sea floor are termed free-living - the genus Zoopilus.

A selection of free-living corals on soft sediment. Clockwise from top: Heteropsammia, Heterocyathus, Cycloseris x2 & Heteropsammia.

Some corals are attached as juveniles and become free-living as adults - the genus Fungia.

Corals may live as a solitary polyp or clone to form a colony of many polyps. Solitary corals can be as large, or larger, than colonies. The genus Ctenactis (left) and Moseleya (right). Note: both of the corals illustrated are also free-living.

Free-living corals can be solitary or colonial - the genus Fungia (left) & Halomitra (right).

A selection of hard and soft corals. The majority of corals live attached to the seafloor.