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Genus Porites, Family Poritidae

By Bob Fenner

Porites lobata

Porites spp. 

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Some guesses at identifying Porites to species level:

Porites asteroides Mustard Hill Coral. Form encrusting colonies in shallows to domes in calmer, deeper water. Three Bahamian specimens below. First two from the shallows are close ups. Cozumel close-up by Di.F at right.

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Porites columnaris Klunzinger 1879. Colonies submassive or as short columns. Appear smooth. Uncommon, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden. Red Sea pic. 


Porites compressa Dana 1846, Finger Coral. Another common (endemic) species in Hawai'i (85% or so of Kaneohe Bay, O'ahu). Generally light brown in color.  Finger like deeper, to knobby boulders in shallow. Below, shallow to deeper pics.
Porites cylindrica Dana 1846, Cylindrical Porous Coral. Indo-Pacific and Red Sea; eastward to Tonga, Marshall Islands. This colony in Queensland, Australia. Note white tips, small, embedded corallites. May be dominant stands in calm inshore settings.

Porites echinulata Klunzinger 1879. Colonies consist of massive flat top columns. Coenosteum between polyps elevated, giving a rough appearance. Common in shallow calm water environments. Red Sea image. 

Porites evermanni Vaughan 1907, Evermann's Coral. A massive form that is sometimes similar to P. lobata (below), but never yellow in color (brown to gray to purple). Commonly knobby and fuzzy at close inspection (the latter due to partly retracted polyps). Likely endemic to Hawai'i. Image with P. lobata in background.

Porites lichen Dana 1846. Colonies as flat plates with fused nodules, columns. Corallites in irregular rows with slightly raised ridges between. Typically yellow in color. Common to dominant species on reef slopes. Red Sea image. 

Porites lobata Dana 1846, Lobe Coral. The most common coral species in Hawai'i. Found as encrusting colonies in high wave action areas to fifteen foot high mounds in protected areas. Yellow to greenish in color. Often with grooves caused by the Snapping Shrimp Alpheus deuteropus. Below: close up of an encrusting colony, one showing shrimp space parasite marking (both Hawai'i) and a huge colony (grow about an inch tall per year) in the Maldives. At right, Hawaiian specimen with pink worm parasites (Trematode, flatworm) that Butterflyfishes pick at, consume, continuing the life cycle.

Porites porites  (Pallas 1776), Finger Coral.  Smooth appearing branches with embedded polyps. Generally tannish to brown in color but may be blue, purple. A close up below and a very small colony in an Eelgrass bed in Belize and an larger colony in the Bahamas.

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Porites rus Forsskal 1775, Plate and Pillar Coral. Variable in shape as its common name points to. Upright columns more shallow to gorgeous plates deeper, more calm waters. Gray to brown in color, often with yellow polyps that have wider spaced calyces, raised areas between polyps. Both morphs visible here at Honaunau, City of refuge, Kailua, Kona, Hawai'i.

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Porites solida (Forsskal 1775). Massive, generally hemispherical boulders of up to meters across. Smooth to undulating surface appearance. Large polyps for the genus. Very common in the Red Sea, so much so that in calmer waters the reef crest is often termed the "Porites Zone" of this species. One inch macro framer and small colony in the Red Sea.

Porites stephensoni Crossland 1952. Small (less than 0.1 meter across, colonies that are encrusting, laminar. Close up showing corallite arrangement. Red Sea image.

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