Pillar Coral is one of the most spectacular stony corals found in the western Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. It derives its name for obvious reasons with its finger like branches. They can reach a height of nearly 3 meters.
This pillar coral fossil is another sample given to me by my late mother-in-law, Winifred (Winkie). She gathered her coral fossil collection along Florida coasts during an era when it was okay to do so. Colonies were once more common along the Florida reef, but commercial collections has greatly reduced its occurrence. Otherwise, pillar coral (Dendrogyra, cylindricus) is found commonly along coasts of Jamaica and Bahamas.
Dendrogyra, cylindricus is unusual in that the polyps with their tentacles are expanded in the daytime unlike most other stony coral. The tentacles sway with the current and if one portion of the colony is disturbed by touching so that the polyps contract, a wave of contractions of the other polyps can be seen to pass over the entire colony in a period of a few seconds.
Pillar Coral (link to clear photo)
CLASSIFICATION OF PILLAR CORAL
Phylum: Cnidardia (large marine group characterized with stinging cells, tentacles and no skeletons or organs)
Class: Anthozoa (Flower Animal)
Order: Scleratinia (Stony Coral)
Suborder: Faviidae (General Spherical Shape)
Family: Meandrinidae (Meandering valleys between corallites)
What’s being done to bring back the threat of coral? Coral farming, see video to find out about this effort to restore the reef along Florida Keys.
Hope you enjoyed this display of pillar corals and learned some things along the way. I feel privileged to have inherited this sample as part of a collection from my beautiful mother-in-law Winkie.