The Green Mouth Moon Polyp (Palythoa sp.) is also known as the Zoanthid Green Mouth Button Polyp. It is not a plant. It is a marine animal – a zoanthid – a Palythoa Coral.
The Green Mouth Moon Polyp can be cream, white, brown, or yellow, with a green centre, which is its mouth. It lives in a colony of many polyps (but it looks like just one single organism). Its polyps are flat circles with rimmed tentacles. The tentacles are short and shaped like a knob. They are connected to a mat, called the coenenchyma.
It grows to 10-30 centimetres (4-12 inches) across. It is a fast grower.
The Green Mouth Moon Polyp is from the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. It inhabits shallow sea waters in reefs and sub-tidal areas. It prefers areas where there is a movement of water (not still water).
It feeds on marine algae called zooxanthellae. It also captures planktonic organisms and microscopic food particles from the water, and can absorb dissolved organic matter. Its predators include snails, slugs, crabs, lobsters, and fish.
The Green Mouth Moon Polyp reproduces by forming and budding off new polyps from its mat.
It produces a poison called palytoxin, which can be deadly to humans.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM