Marine Animal Encyclopedia
Carnation Coral Dendronephthya species
Carnation corals are among the most colorful of all reef animals. They grow as branched and bushy colonies and often cover steep reef walls with pink, red, orange, yellow, and white patches. Carnation corals prefer to live where there are fast currents. When the current is running, they expand to full size and the polyps, which are on the branch ends, extend out to feed. With little or no current, they often hang down as flaccid lumps. In some species of carnation coral, such as the one shown here, small slivers of colored calcium carbonate show through the body tissue. These are called sclerites and help to give the soft branches some strength. Individual species of Dendronephthya are difficult to identify visually and many species have not yet been described.