The Plate Coral (Lithophyllon repandaor Fungia repanda) is a large marine (saltwater) polyp stony coral in the Fungiidae family of mushroom, disc, or plate coral. It is not a plant.
The Plate Coral is a colony of organisms, each with a separate mouth. It is shaped like a plate with a round, flat body, which is raised a little in the centre where the mouth is. It is covered with short tentacles, less than 2 centimetres (less than an inch) in height. It can be a variety of colours, from brownish to yellow, red, blue, or orange.
It grows to about 23 centimetres (9 inches) in diameter. It is sessile (it doesn’t move). However, it can inflate its body with water to increase its size to double, which enables it to move a little. This is called benthic locomotion – moving on the bottom of the ocean.
It is found in the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, off the coast of eastern Africa, western Australia, around Japan, and the East China Sea. It prefers a smooth, sandy sea floor.
Its polyp emerges from the centre at night to feed on plankton.
The Plate Coral can change its sex.
Location of photographs: Sea Life London Aquarium, England
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM