Coral Reef


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This piece is based off a diving site in the Florida Keys called the Pillar Patch.  The name comes from the abundance of Pillar Coral (Dendrogyra cylindrus) in the area.  Other corals featured in this picture include:

Boulder Brain Coral (Colpophyllia natans) in the bottom left.  Those blue fish on it are Neon Goby (Elacatinus oceanops).

Sea Fan (Gorgonia ventalina).  The purple fan above the brain coral.

Fire coral (Millepora complanata)—the brown, slab-like corals with white edges.  This is actually not a true coral, but a closely-related animal called a Hydrozoan (Corals and sea fans are in the Anthozoan class).  The difference between the two groups of animals is mostly internal.  The body of a hydrozoan is just a simple tube, whereas an anthozoan’s body is divided into several internal partitions or chambers.

At the top of the reef ridge is a forest of Sea Rods (various species of Pseudopterogorgia and Pterogorgia)

There’s also a large Barrel Sponge (Xestospongia muta) in the middle.  And several other miscellaneous corals.

The fish featured in this piece are:

Blue-Striped Grunt (Haemulon sciurus)

Smooth Trunkfish (Lactophrys triqueter)—the black-and-white cowfish in the right corner

Stoplight Parrotfish (Sparisoma viride) in the middle left.  Despite the huge difference in coloration, the green and the red-and-gray parrotfish are indeed of the same species.  Like many fish, parrotfish change sex during the course of their life.  All stoplights start off as red-and-grays and at this point can be either male or female.  Males in this color phase remain that color throughout their life, as do most of the females.  Some females, however, transform into males at maturity and acquire the green coloration.  These sex-changers are called terminal males or supermales.

French Angelfish (Pomacanthus paru) in the far middle right.  A large, curious fish that will swim up to investigate divers.

Sergeant Majors (Abudefduf saxatilis) in the upper left. 

High-hat (Equetus accuminatus) in the upper right circle.  This tiny fish is in the family Sciaenidae, the same group that includes the significantly larger Black Drum (Pogonias cromis).

The information for this piece was taken from:

The Encyclopedia of Fishes, written by Dr. Stephen Hutchinson and Karen McGhee

Reef Coral Identification by Paul Humann and Ned Deloach

The Florida Museum of Ichthyology website:


Coral Reef ©2010 John Meszaros.  All Rights Reserved