The Most Important Brain Coral Facts That You Need to Know
When considering the main brain coral facts that science is currently aware of, their longevity is among the first things to consider. However, brain corals are not just a boring organism that lives very long. Their intricate anatomy, unique physical characteristics and extremely close connections between polyps are among the most exciting facts that marine biologists would point out. Also, another noteworthy fact about brain corals is that, like many other species of coral, they are under threat, and their populations might not survive much longer if further steps aren’t taken to secure a more solid defense in the face of natural and artificial stressors.
Introductory Brain Coral Facts
Brain corals belong to the family Mussidae and Merulinidae, two families of reef-building stony corals that are typically found in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and that feature closely-knit bonds between coral polyps that makes them resemble a brain-like structure – hence the name. Brain corals are formed by genetically identical coral polyps, and their compact structure offers additional stability for all members of the coral colony. As a result of this impressive stability, brain corals have been known to withstand harsh currents and weather changes caused by environmental stressors more easily, which is part of what makes them live for hundreds of years.
Brain Coral Age, Longevity and Gradual Development
The general behavior of most brain coral species is semi-aggressive and even defensive during the daytime. At night, like most corals, brain coral polyps extend their tentacles to feed, while during the daytime they use them mainly for defensive purposes. The development is fast during the early years of their lives, and it slows down as they become heavier and more solid. Because brain corals can withstand almost anything nature can throw at them, they are typically known to have a lifespan of more than 900 years. This longevity and the brain corals’ stability makes them a key component of the coral reef ecosystem.
Facts about Brain Corals and Their Threatened Status
It is no secret that brain corals are threatened and recognized as such in most of the world’s countries. Despite their overall resilience, brain corals aren’t able to defend themselves against pollution and contaminated water, and they are also a target for divers and coral reef enthusiasts who collect them for their unique shape and appearance. Also, events like the powerful El Nino events from 1998 and the recent bleaching events that have wiped out much of the Great Barrier Reef have also affected brain corals to a great extent. Today, according to most brain coral facts, there are far fewer brain coral colonies than in the past few decades, and while brain corals can be found on most reefs, they are not as abundant as other species.