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Video of Sanctuary Invertebrates - This includes a variety of crustaceans, mollusks, jellies, echinoderms, and worms.

All of the following cnidarians are found within the coral cap region of the sanctuary (0-130 ft, 0-40m deep). Common names are listed, if known.

Click on a link below to jump directly to a specific cnidarian category:

Stony (Hard) Corals
Tube Anemones

Common Name Scientific Name
Pale Anemone Giant Aiptasia pallida
Caribbean (Giant) Anemone
Caribbean (giant) anemone (Condylactis gigantea)
Condylactis gigantea
Hidden Anemone
Hidden anemone (Lebrunia coralligens)
Lebrunia coralligens
Stinging/Branching Anemone Lebrunia danae

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Common Name Scientific Name

Branching Fire Coral
branching fire coral

A patch of Branching Fire Coral surrounding a small sponge

branching fire coral

Millepora alcicornis

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Common Name Scientific Name
  Aglaophenia elongata
Feather Plume Hydroid Aglaophenia latecarinata
  Bimeria sp.
  Bougainvillia sp.
  Clytia cylindrica
  Clytia noliformis
  Gonothyraea gracilis
  Monostaechas sp.
Sea Thread Hydroid Obelia dichotoma
Knotted Thread Hydroid Obelia geniculata
hydroid (Pennaria disticha) Pennaria disticha
  Plumularia corrugata
  Plumularia diaphana
  Plumularia margaretta
  Sertularia dalmasi
  Sertularia mayeri
hydroid (Thyroscyphus marginatus) Thyroscyphus marginatus
  Zanclea costata
  Zygophylax convallarius

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Common Name Scientific Name

Moon Jelly
Moon jelly (Aurelia aurita)

Moon jelly (Aurelia aurita)

Aurelia aurita


Warty Sea Wasp Carybdaea marsupialis

Sea Nettle
Sea Nettle (Chrysaora quinquicirrha)

Sea Nettle (Chrysaora quinquicirrha)

Sea Nettle (Chrysaora quinquicirrha)

Chrysaora quinquicirrha

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Image of front page of coral guide

A pictorial Coral Guide (5MB pdf, pictured above) is also available for download and may be laminated for field work.

Coral polyps with tentacles extended
Coral polyps (Image: FGBNMS/Schmahl)

Stony Corals
Common Name Scientific Name

Elkhorn Coral
Threatened Species (2006)
Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata)
Only two (2) known colonies
in the sanctuary.

Acropora palmata
Lettuce Coral
lettuce coral
Agaricia (Undaria) agaricites

Fragile Saucer Coral
fragile saucer coral

Fragile Saucer Coral (Agaricia fragilis)

Agaricia fragilis
  Colpophyllia amaranthus

Boulder Brain Coral
boulder brain coral close-up (Colpophyllia natans)
(close up)

Young colony of Boulder Brain Coral (Colphophyllia natans)
(young colony)

Young colony of Boulder Brain Coral (Colphophyliia natans)
(young colony)

Spawning brain coral (C. natans)

Colpophyllia natans
Hat/Sunray Lettuce Corall
sunray lettuce coral (Helioseris cucullata)
Helioseris (Leptoseris) cucullata

Ten-ray Star Coral
ten ray star coral colony

ten-ray star coral

Ten-ray Star Coral (Madracis decactis)

Ten-ray Star Coral polyps (Madracis decactis)

Madracis decactis

Yellow Pencil Coral
Yellow pencil coral (Madracis auretenra (mirabilis))

Yellow Pencil Coral (Madracis auretenra)

Yellow Pencil Coral (Madracis auretenra)

Madracis auretenra (mirabilis)
Madracis brueggemanni Madracis brueggemanni

Great Star Coral
Great Star Coral (Montastraea cavernosa)
(multiple colonies)

Great Star Coral (Montastraea cavernosa)
(polyps extended)

Polyps of Great Star Coral (Montastraea cavernosa)
(close up)

Small colony of a Great Star Coral starting to grow on a section of bare substrate.
(new recruit)

Montastraea cavernosa

Spiny Flower Coral
Spiny Flower Coral (Mussa angulosa)

spiny flower coral

close up view of spiny flower coral polyps
(close up)

Spiny Flower Coral (Mussa angulosa)
(individual polyp)

A colony of Spiny Flower Coral that is partly bare, dead skeleton and partly live polyps
(part dead, part alive)

spiny flower coral skeleton (Mussa angulosa)

Mussa angulosa
Diffuse Ivory Bush Coral
diffuse ivory bush coral (Oculina diffusa)
Oculina diffusa

Lobed Star Coral
Threatened Species (2014)
Lobed Star Coral (Orbicella annularis)

colony of lobed star coral (Orbicella annularis)

Two Amberjack swimming over a field of Orbicella annularis

Mountainous Star Coral (Orbicella faveolata) surrounded by Lobed Star Coral (Orbicella annularis)
(O. faveolata center, O. annularis right and left)

Orbicella (Montastraea) annularis

Mountainous Star Coral
Threatened Species (2014)
Mountainous Star Coral (Orbicella faveolata)

Mountainous Star Coral (Orbicella faveolata)

Mountainous Star Coral (Orbicella faveolata)

Mountainous Star Coral (Orbicella faveolata)
(polyps extended)

Orbicella (Montastraea) faveolata

Boulder Star Coral
Threatened Species (2014)
Boulder Star Coral (Orbicella franksi)

Bouldar Star Coral (Orbicella franksi)

Polyps of Boulder Star Coral (Orbicella franksi)
(close up)

Orbicella (Montastraea) franksi

Mustard Hill Coral
mustard hill coral

close up view of mustard hill coral polyps
(close up)

Porites astreoides

Finger Coral
finger coral (Porites furcata)

Finger Coral (Porites furcata)

Porites furcata

Symmetrical Brain CoralSymmetrical Brain Coral (Pseudodiploria strigosa)

Symmetrical Brain Coral (Pseudodiploria strigosa)

Symmetrical Brain Coral (Pseudodiploria strigosa)

Grooves of Symmetrical Brain Coral (Pseudodiploria strigosa)

Pseudodiploria (Diploria) strigosa
Speckled Cup Coral Rhizosmilia maculata

Artichoke Coral
Artichoke coral (solitary disk coral)

Artichoke Coral (Scolymia cubensis)

Scolymia cubensis
Lesser Starlet Coral
Lesser Starlet Coral (Siderastrea radians)
Siderastrea radians
Massive Starlet Coral
massive starlet coral
Siderastrea siderea

Blushing Star Coral
Blushing star coral (Stephanocoenia intersepta)

close up view of blushing star coral polyps
(close up)

Stephanocoenia intersepta

Orange Cup Coral
Invasive Species
Orange cup coral (Tubastraea coccinea)

closed orange cup coral
(closed polyps)

Tubastraea coccinea

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Orbicella franksi, Orbicella annularis, and Orbicella franksi images with a note that these are now listed under the Endangered Species List

In response to a request to list 66 species of coral under the Endangered Species Act, NOAA conducted an in-depth evaluation of each species and determined that 20 of those species should be listed as threatened. This is in addition to the original two Acropora species listed in 2006.

Among those listed are three species of star coral that are prevalent on the Flower Garden Banks reefs--Orbicella annularis, Orbicella faveolata, Orbicella franksi.

Tube Anemones
Common Name Scientific Name
Banded Tube-dwelling Anemone Arachnanthus nocturnus
  Calliactus tricolor

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Common Name Scientific Name
Sponge Zoanthid Parazoanthus parasiticus
  Zoanthus sp.

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Download a List of Cnidarian Species (18kb pdf) found in the coral cap region of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.

weather report observations cool stuff get wet

Small, knobby corals in foreground; boulder of brain coral in background.  Long, fingery branches of purple sponge anchored in knobby corals and standing upright.
National Marine Sanctuary logo - a stylized whale tail above waves