Also referred to as Staghorn Acropora, the species known as Acropora Formosa is a type of coral found often on slopes and fringes, although mainly observed to be a dominant presence in lagoons.
This variety of Acropora can generally be found in thickets, with a single member being able to reach out as far as 10 meters in areas more than 30 meters deep. The species are also known to be highly adaptable, their habitats ranging from turbid waters without much sunlight to low tide areas where they are fully exposed to the sun.
While most Acropora corals have dense bases and present porous, lightweight skeletons near the edges and the tips of their branches, Acropora Formosa is slightly unique in the sense that it has one of the densest types of skeletons ever observed in stony corals.
Formosa species mainly thrives in areas where the temperature is average and stable at around 70-78 F (22-26 C), some of its most prevalent locations including Madagascar, the Marshall Islands and Australia.
Also, while a notable trait about Acropora corals is that they have developed a symbiotic bond with a type of marine algae called zooxanthellae, through which they are able to receive most of their nutrients on a regular basis, Formosa polyps do not rely on these algae, and they are known to be fed by the rest of the colony.
Acropora Formosa has the unique characteristic of being able to outgrow many of the other corals on the reefs they populate. This is due mainly to their fast growing polyps found on the tips of their branches which constantly produce new, thicket-like growths.
Their life cycle also plays a significant role in this, as Formosa species can reach sexual maturity within 3-5 years, while their life span can stretch out to about 7 years in many cases. Despite this fact, however, the coral is very sensitive to various environment changes which can include sedimentation, insufficient water movement or the presence of various harmful chemicals in the waters surrounding it.
Also, potential problems have been found due to the species’ rapid deterioration as a result of bleaching or receding. They are known to be susceptible to almost all coral related diseases as well, including necrosis, white-band and black-band diseases.
Their inability to sustain themselves under a variety of challenging conditions along with the observations made throughout the past decades have brought the Acropora Formosa corals on the IUCN Red List for endangered species.