Zigzag Coral, (Madrepora oculata), is a species of stony coral found worldwide, except for in the polar regions. It grows in deep water, from 250 feet to 5000 feet deep. It is only one of 12 species of coral that are found worldwide, including in Sub-Antarctic oceans. It is a dominating coral in some regions, including the Mediterranean and northeast Atlantic. This species was first described in 1758.
The texture, color and other aspects of this species is quite variable. It also has a tendency to branch out to other specimens in the same coral colony. It is bushy, growing in small colonies that form thickets, creating fan-shaped matrices (singular: matrix) about 12 to 20 inches high. It has thick skeletal parts that grow in a lamellar (thin-plated armor) pattern.
Zigzag coral, having a fragile skeleton and not being able to sustain a large framework, is usually found among stronger coral that can offer protection. It also produces large amounts of mucus is outside the cell membranes. The mucus acts as a protective fluid to shield the coral skeleton from attacks of destructive pests. In areas where it dominates, it is usually found in rubble and debris rather than in coral reefs.