I inherited a collection of coral skeletons discovered by my late mother-in-law, Winkie, lying on Florida beaches during family vacations in the 70’s and 80’s before preservation laws forbid people from collecting them. She was not familiar with the world-wide-web, but would have been thrilled to share them with you. I’m sure she’s very pleased in spirit.
Finger Corals are the first from a list of eight of Winkie’s coral species presented in this category, plus a link to my feature article about her Star Corals:
- Finger Coral
- Maze Coral
- Rose Coral
- Low Relief Lettuce Coral
- Cactus Coral
- Pillar Coral
- Brain Coral
- Brain Coral
- 7 Star Corals
To begin, finger-like corals are a dominant species in the Caribbean, Florida and Bahamas ocean reefs and form some of the largest colonies extending as high as 8 meters (26 feet) tall. They are a very slow growing form and therefore some may be a thousand years old!
Because the fossil/skeleton sample in my possession has broken off branches (very typical) I was unable to identify the exact species, but am certain it belongs to the genus called, Porites. Three Western Atlantic Porites species have features that overlap so they can be difficult to pin exactly. Below are brief descriptions and photos of these three varieties.
- Club Tip Finger Coral (Porites, porites) possess thick, stubby branches growing upright or spread wide apart. Often gray, occasionally bright blue
- Branching Finger Coral (Porites, furcata) possess elongated, tightly compact branches with rounded tips. Usually grey
- Thin Finger Coral (Porites, divaricata) possess most slender branches, widely spaced apart, often divided at their tips. Colors vary from purple, yellowish brown, grey and brown.
FINGER CORAL CLASSIFICATION
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Cnardia (stinging cells)
- Class: Anthozoa (flower animl)
- Order: Scleractinia (stony coral)
- Family: Poritidae (massive reef builders)
- Genus: Porites (finger-like)