If you ever go scuba diving in the coral reefs of Southern Florida or the Bahamas islands, you might have the pleasure of spotting a Pillar Coral. As the name suggests, Pillar Coral are cylindrical pillars that stand tall in the ocean. This species has a hard skeleton and furry polyps, brown in color. However, their benefits are extended beyond their attractive appearance. Populations of corals protect small fish from predators and reduce the magnitude of storms on the coast.
The conservation status of the species is Vulnerable. The main threat to the species is rising ocean temperatures due to global climate change. Therefore, it is essential to learn about this marine animal and implement proper management practices for its conservation.
Pillar Coral is a marine invertebrate animal; it is the only species of the genus Dendrogyra. It has a hard skeleton and furry polyps. The species has a single fixed base from which various branch-like spires emerge.
What class of animal does a Pillar Coral belong to?
The Pillar Coral Dendrogyra cylindrus belongs to the class of Anthozoa. This class includes many species of marine invertebrates.
How many Pillar Corals are there in the world?
The exact global population of the coral species is unknown, but 815 colonies were identified in the Florida reef tract from 2015-2020.
Where does a Pillar Coral live?
Populations of this species reside in the sultry oceans of North and South America, ranging from the Western Atlantic ocean to the Caribbean sea. They can be spotted in regions of South Florida, the Bahamas, and the Gulf of Mexico.
What is a Pillar Coral's habitat?
The natural habitat of Pillar Coral is the warm ocean floor. Its colonies grow on slightly inclined or flat coral reefs at a depth of 1-20 meters.
Who does Pillar Coral live with?
The coral species inhabit reefs by forming large colonies. The interior of their body functions as small survival tunnels which protect worms, shrimp, and fish from predators. Also, they coexist with zooxanthellae (algae) with whom they have a symbiotic relationship.
How long does a Pillar Coral live?
The life expectancy of Pillar Coral Dendrogyra cylindrus is estimated to be more than 10 years by the IUCN. However, the exact lifespan is unknown.
How do they reproduce?
This coral species reproduce asexually as well as sexually. The biology of asexual reproduction is simple fragmentation- a branch detaches from the parent, and the fallen segment grows into a young adult. In sexual reproduction, the male releases its sperm, and the female releases its eggs into the ocean, where they are fertilized. Then, the ocean currents help the larvae settle on the seafloor.
What is their conservation status?
The Pillar Coral (Dendrogyra cylindrus) conservation status is listed as threatened (Vulnerable) by the IUCN and is safeguarded by the Federal endangered species act. The main threat of this coral species is climate change, including ocean acidification and rising global temperatures. As a result, researchers are making efforts towards the management of existing populations and breeding them outside their natural habitat.
Pillar Coral Fun Facts
What do Pillar Corals look like?
Pillar Corals emerge like cylindrical branches from a single fixed base; they resemble fingers. During the daytime, the species appears furry because polyps are unveiled. This fur-like appearance is olive or golden-brown in color.
How cute are they?
Populations of corals have a brilliant appearance. Their distribution across the marine waters adds architecture to the mundane seabed. Their unique physical structure and metallic gold color make it look divine. The species can be termed as attractive.
How do they communicate?
The exact way of how a Pillar Coral (Dendrogyra cylindrus) communicates is unknown, but it is assumed that they do so in the same manner as other coral species. They secrete chemicals, emit sound, and move the cluster of tentacles to convey information. For example, when a coral predicts a threat, it emits a particular sound to attract local fish to the reef's safety.
How big is a Pillar Coral?
Pillar Coral (Dendrogyra cylindrus) is about seven feet tall and has a diameter of approximately two inches. The diameter of the great star coral (found in the Caribbean) is 15 times the diameter of the Pillar Coral.
How fast can a Pillar Coral move?
Pillar Corals are stationary animals whose base is fixed to the seabed. However, the distribution of eggs and sperms takes place through ocean currents. Apart from this, the tentacles also wobble to send out signals.
How much does a Pillar Coral weigh?
The information about the weight of Pillar Corals is unknown because they appear in colonies. These colonies vary significantly in size (a range of 15-115 cubic meters) and are spread across different geographical regions.
What are their male and female names of the species?
Unlike most coral species, which are bisexual, Pillar Corals have separate male and female members. However, there are no separate names for the males and females of the species.
Females release eggs, and males release spermsduring sexual reproduction.
What would you call a baby Pillar Coral?
A baby Pillar Coral (Dendrogyra cylindrus) is often referred to as a juvenile. However, the survival rate of juvenile coral species is declining because of poor fertilization caused by climate change. Researchers of Florida are now trying to use scientific methods to breed the coral.
What do they eat?
The primary mode of nutrition of a Pillar Coral (Dendrogyra cylindrus) is through a symbiotic relationship with algae called zooxanthellae. The algae provide essential nutrients and oxygen to the species. The other dietary requirements are fulfilled by applying carnivorous strategies. This includes capturing zooplankton.
Are they poisonous?
Pillar Corals are classified as the most dangerous marine animals because of their poisonous spines. Coral is poisonous to protect itself from being eaten by fish and other marine animals. However, the species does not make this poison itself. Instead, it attracts the toxins from marine sponges or collaborates with microbes.
Would they make a good pet?
This rare marine species was listed as threatened by the endangered species act, so it would not make an excellent domestic pet. However, a range of strategies is being applied for conservation in many places, including the Florida aquarium facility.
Did you know...
This pretty species is also helpful. It provides shelter to small fish and absorbs excess energy from a storm before it reaches the coast.
Pillar Coral Lifespan
The range of this species' lifespan is more than 10 years up to 100 years.
Pillar Coral Adaptations
The coral has a symbiotic adaption with algae that helps it survive and provide basic nutrients. Apart from this, high global temperatures pose a major threat to the populations of corals, so a range of adaptations could be made to the ecology. These adaptations include adding urchins to their habitat, management of existing populations, and preventing boating damage.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other Anthozoa including brain coral facts and fire coral facts.
At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.
We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.
Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.
Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.
Sponsorship & Advertising Policy
Kidadl is independent and to make our service free to you the reader we are supported by advertising.
We hope you love our recommendations for products and services! What we suggest is selected independently by the Kidadl team. If you purchase using the buy now button we may earn a small commission. This does not influence our choices. Please note: prices are correct and items are available at the time the article was published.
Kidadl has a number of affiliate partners that we work with including Amazon. Please note that Kidadl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.
We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.