Coral Identification for FKCC Students
One of the best ways to learn the names and four letter codes for corals is to go see them in their natural habitat. Yes, I know you do not get to go out on a boat enough, and when you do, there is never enough time to really take a good look around. The easiest way for you see many of the corals on your list is to snorkel the old sea wall and pier at Higgs beach. Pick a day when the wind is light, or in any direction from the north. I think I have seen at least different species of coral here. After your swim, use any coral identification resource you have and look up any corals that you could not identify. After doing this a few times, it becomes easy to identify the more common species. Some of the codes can be used as memory aid, others you will just have to memorize. Have fun, and I hope this helps.
Montastraea cavernosa - MCAV - The largest polyps of the boulder corals, about the size of a cherrio.
Orbicella annularis - OANN - Multiple columns, kind of like fists pointing up. Live polyps are only on the upper parts of the lobes. Colonies can be very large.
Orbicella faveolata - OFAV - Large mounds with bumps and ridges that are in a line. I think the bumps and ridges remind me of the back of a dinosaur. Colonies can be very large.
Orbicella franksi - OFRA - Large mounds with irregular bumps and mounds. Very similar to OFAV, but remember OFAV will have its bumps and ridges in a line, OFRA will random. OFRAndom. Some polyps will not have zooxanthellae and will appear bleached. This is normal. I thought of them as eyes, Orbicella franksi (frankseye).
Porites astreoides - PAST - One of the most common corals in the Keys. Lumpy surface with small polyps, appears fuzzy. Many colors, yellow, green, brown, and gray.
Siderastrea siderea - SSID - Large boulders, heads, domes, and encrustations. Similar to SRAD. Corallites are pitted. SSID does not have a flat spot between polyps....