Corals

Chinese Hat Coral
Agaricia fragilis

Habitat:

The Chinese Hat Coral can be found in calm habitats on underwater rock walls, the sides of pinnacle reefs and sometimes in cavities on the rim reefs. It is common in the Harrington Sound notch and in Castle Harbour. 

Characteristics:

These corals form thin, saucer-like colonies that are fastened to the rock by a short stalk at the center of the backs surface. They are quite fragile. Observed from above, they have an uneven pattern of concentric, greenish circles in the form of low ridges, starting at the center and stopping short of the outer edge. The ground colour is a reddish-brown. The underside of the coral is smooth. These fragile corals will only grow where there is gentle water movement and are usually in shadowed locations. However they are never found in completely dark situations. This is because they rely on minute symbiotic algae which live within the coral polyps for food supply. These photosynthetic algae need light to function. The diameter of the colony is up to about 8 inches or 20 centimeters. These corals contribute little if anything to the reef structure, but fragments are common in sediments. These native corals are also found in Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. 

Similar Animals:

There are no other corals in Bermuda which can be confused with this one. 

Conservation Importance:

Corals are vital to the high biological productivity of tropical and sub-tropical coastal waters, without them we would not have the wealth of fishes and invertebrate animals that we see. The Chinese Hat Coral can live in coastal waters and sounds where many other corals could not survive. 

 

Photographs by Alan Logan and text by Martin L. H. Thomas