Rice Coral

Rice Coral, (Montipora capitata), also known as Pore Coral, is a species of stony coral in the Acroporidae family. It is found in the tropical north and central areas of the Pacific Ocean at depths down to 66 feet. It is common in the waters near Hawaii, especially where the sea is turbulent.

This is a reef-building species that forms colonies. As it matures, it develops tree-like branches. Its corallites are tiny and well separated by a calcareous (calcium carbonate) skeleton. The walls and septae are distinct. The skeleton is porous and there are small smooth surface projections known as verrucae which give this coral its common name: Rice Coral. These are irregularly spaced and may be fused near the tips of branches. The color is normally pale brown with white verrucae.

This coral is threatened by habitat destruction. Rising sea temperatures can kill zooxanthallae (algae) that this coral depends on, which in turn bleaches the coral, leading to coral mortality. Stressed corals are more susceptible to disease. El Nino events and ocean acidification are also threats to rice coral, as well as trawling and other fishing activities, pollution and sedimentation.

The Crown-of-Thorns Starfish is a voracious predator that feeds predominantly on rice coral, having a devastating effect on the slow growing coral.