There are hundreds of species of coral found in National Park oceans. The new coral species known as Pacific Elkhorn coral bears a strong resemblance to the endangered Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) found only in the Atlantic Ocean and primarily the Caribbean. When a storm or some other disturbance breaks apart a colony, each piece is able to reattach to the reef surface and begin growing again. Elkhorn coral is found in shallow water, generally ranging from 1 to 5 meters deep. Elkhorn corals are members of the family Acroporidae. The staghorn coral is listed as a candidate species for the Endangered Species Act of 1973 due to its recent decrease in range. Found 10-160 feet (3-49 m) below the surface in protected clear water, colonies cover large areas of the reef. Elkhorn coral colonies can also reproduce through fragmentation (asexually). Since 2006, the Zoo has participated in a joint effort with other zoos, aquariums and universities to help establish a population of two species of endangered stony corals found only in the Caribbean — Elkhorn Coral (Acropora palmata) and Staghorn Coral (Acropora cervicornis). The following species can be seen in the Coral … National park of American Samoa has over 250 species of coral alone! Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) is an important reef-building coral in the Caribbean.The species has a complex structure with many branches which resemble that of elk antlers; hence, the common name. Elkhorn coral is a tropical species and inhabits waters with a temperature range of 66 tol 86 degrees F. This coral tolerates salinities within the normal range of 33 to 37 parts per thousand. A healthy example of Acropora palmata, or Elkhorn Coral The essential habitat provided by Elkhorn Coral makes this species a keystone of the reef’s structure. Since 1980, an estimated 90-95% of elkhorn coral has been lost. The complex coral structure in turn creates habitat for myriad reef fishes and invertebrates. Elkhorn corals are usually fast growing with branches increasing by 5-10 cm per year. Horn coral, any coral of the order Rugosa, which first appeared in the geologic record during the Ordovician Period, which began 488 million years ago; the Rugosa persisted through the Permian Period, which ended 251 million years ago.Horn corals, which are named for the hornlike shape of the individual structures built by the coral animal, were either solitary or colonial forms. The branching structure creates habitat and shelter for many other reef species. Elkhorn coral is considered to be one of the most important reef-building corals in the Caribbean and it was the first coral species in the world to receive protection from the Endangered Species Act. This coral also typically lives in areas of high wave action. Some common corals you can expect to find in national parks are elkhorn coral, staghorn coral, boulder coral and brain corals. They have a unique growth pattern with exceptionally thick and sturdy antler-like branches. The Pacific elkhorn coral (Acropora rotumana) — with branches like an elk's antlers — was found during an underwater survey of the Arno atoll in the Marshall Islands. This is especially true in waters from 1-5 m deep where they are most commonly found.
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