Toadstool Coral (Sarcophyton) is a marine invertebrate animal that looks like a toadstool mushroom.
Corals are in the phylum Cnidaria, and the class Anthozoa. Corals are divided into three sub-classes: Hexacorallia, Octocorallia, and Ceriantharia. Toadstool Coral is in the Octocorallia sub-class – the soft corals.
Toadstool Coral usually has a rounded trunk (base or stem) that is firmly attached to a rock or substance (it cannot move – it is sessile). On top of the trunk is a round, flat cap called a capitulum. The capitulum can be ruffled or folded. Numerous individual polyps (tentacles) arise from the capitulum, which wave back and forth in the ocean currents. The polyps can retract within the capitulum at night and come out during the day.
Toadstool Coral can be various colours, such as cream, light brown, green, pink, or yellow. The base, trunk, or stem can be the same colour as the capitulum, or a different darker colour.
The capitulum can grow up to 60 centimetres (24 inches) across.
It is a reef-building coral found in the tropical seas of Australia and Indonesia. It lives in colonies.
Toadstool Coral feeds on zooplankton and bacteria.
Toadstool Coral is hermaphroditic. It produces its own eggs and can fertilize the eggs with its own sperm within the polyp.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM