|Orange Coral (Astroides calycularis)
Astroides calycularis belongs to the family Dendrophylliidae, from the suborder Dendrophylliina, order Scleractinia, class Anthozoa, phylum Cnidaria and kingdom Animalia.
Astroides calycularis, an encrusting coral with the characteristic orange colour, is an azooxanthellate scleractinian coral commonly found in shallow rocky habitats. It forms rounded encrusting colonies on rocks, cavities and cave entrances, starting from a depth of 1 metre up to 50 metres. The polyps have a smooth cup and numerous retractile tentacles.
Like all Anthozoa, the species is carnivorous and feeds on plankton. It is distributed mainly in the south-western Mediterranean, Central and South America but also in the Atlantic in the vicinity of the Strait of Gibraltar.
The species Astroides calycularis, already widespread in the Pleistocene, has suffered a gradual progressive decline and is considered a species at risk of extinction. Recent studies have highlighted certain zones where the rate of extinction of colonies is up to 50% every year. Therefore, this species is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) but does not feature in the IUCN red list.
This photo was taken at Reqqa Point on Gozo’s north coast.
Photo taken by Brian Azzopardi