This week's video features a cluster of identical Tubastrea coccinea coral polyps feeding on passing plankton (rotifers). The film is sped up 10 times to emphasize the feeding abilities and coordination between the sticky tentacles and the polyps' mouths.
Tubastrea coccinea or 'Sun Corals', have an unusual background story, being the only invasive stony coral to become established in the Caribbean basin. Native to the tropical Indo-Pacific Oceans, they were first noted living on ships' hulls in Puerto Rico and Curacao (Southern Caribbean) in the mid 1940's. Over the ensuing decades, they eventually spread elsewhere throughout the entire Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico on the prevailing water currents. It is believed that these sun corals may have originally entered our region as larval stow-aways in the ballast water of intercontinental ships that passed through the Panama Canal.
Video, Aquarium + Original Soundtrack: Coral Morphologic