Giant Brain Coral Colpophyllia natans
Giant brain coral grows as giant domes or extensive thick crusts and can live for more than 100 years. The surface of the colony is a convoluted series of ridges and long valleys, as in other species of brain coral, and this is what gives it its name. The valleys and ridges of giant brain coral are often differently colored and the ridges have a distinct groove running along the top. Typically, the valleys are green or brown and the ridges are brown. The polyp mouths are hidden in the valleys and the tentacles are only extended at night. In recent years, giant brain corals in the Tortugas Islands (south of the Florida Keys) have been attacked by a disease and some have died. Particularly large colonies are popular tourist attractions in islands such as Tobago. As well as attracting divers, giant brain coral heads attract fish, and some gobies live permanently on the coral.
- Class Anthozoa
- Diameter Up to 6 ft (2 m)
- Depth 3–180 ft (1–55 m)
- Habitat Seaward side of coral reefs
- Distribution Tropical waters of Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean