Thin Birdsnest Coral is a type of colonial stony coral that belongs to the Pocilloporidae family. This means it grows in a branching clump, like a bush.
The scientific name of the Thin Birdsnest Coral is Seriatopora hystrix.
It lives in shallow water, either on slopes or in sheltered lagoons.
Where Can You Find the Thin Birdsnest Coral?
Thin Birdsnest Coral is found in East Africa, the Red Sea, and the western Indo-Pacific region.
It’s a common species and is not currently at risk of extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The Red Sea: A Special Home
The Red Sea is a special place for the Thin Birdsnest Coral. It’s known as the type locality, which means it’s the place where the Thin Birdsnest Coral was first identified.
How Does the Thin Birdsnest Coral Look and Grow?
The Thin Birdsnest Coral forms a tangled, bushy clump of fragile, slender, tapering branches with pointed tips.
These clumps can grow to be quite large, up to a meter across. The branches can be thicker in places with strong water movement.
The Thin Birdsnest Coral can be cream, pink, yellow, brown, or blue.
Corallites: The Coral’s Tiny Homes
The coral’s polyps, the tiny creatures that make up the coral, live in what are called corallites.
These are neat rows of oval, cup-shaped depressions with raised rims. At night, the polyps pop out of these homes.
How Does the Thin Birdsnest Coral Reproduce?
The Thin Birdsnest Coral is a hermaphrodite, which means each polyp can produce both sperm and eggs.
The sperm get released into the sea and get drawn into other polyps. The larvae that develop are cared for inside the polyp.
The Thin Birdsnest Coral also reproduces asexually. Detached fragments of coral can form new colonies.
What Lives Within the Thin Birdsnest Coral?
Thin Birdsnest Coral is a host to symbiotic dinoflagellates, a type of tiny alga. These algae live within the coral’s tissues and are passed on during the brooding of the larvae.
Different species of these algae are associated with the Thin Birdsnest Coral in different parts of its habitat range.
The Coral’s Other Tenants
The tangled form of Thin Birdsnest Coral provides a perfect home for other animals too. Some crustaceans live here, finding shelter and food. They also protect the coral from predators.
Each Thin Birdsnest Coral colony usually houses a single species of these crustaceans.
What Threats Does the Thin Birdsnest Coral Face?
The Thin Birdsnest Coral faces threats like ocean acidification, climate change, and habitat loss. It’s also collected for the reef aquarium trade.
In 2005 alone, about 15000 pieces were exported worldwide. Despite these threats, the Thin Birdsnest Coral’s wide range and commonness may make it more resilient than other species.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed the Thin Birdsnest Coral’s conservation status. Luckily, they consider it to be of ‘least concern’.