About the object
This specimen is part of the museum's old stock, possibly entering the collection in 1961, which an attached note suggests. No further information is available. An entry in the inventory log has yet to be ascertained.
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Brain corals are common in all tropical waters. These large polyp stony corals are classified as sessile cnidarians minus the medusa phase and very often grow in colonies. They are typical in coral reef habitats. At their base they secrete a calcium carbonate skeleton (modification aragonite). Brain corals live in endosymbiosis with photosynthetic zooxanthellae that provide the coral with nutrients and also give it its colour. Shallow, warm waters rich in sunlight are essential for the survival of this family of corals. In stressful situations, for example, when seawater heats up, the zooxanthellae are ejected. If this stressful circumstance persists, or if no recovery takes place, the zooxanthellae essential for existence cannot be reabsorbed. This phenomenon is known as coral bleaching. The coral starves to death, leaving behind a white skeleton. Although brain corals can be cultivated with experience in seawater aquariums, reproduction is extremely difficult. As a result and despite strict regulation and prohibition, wild harvesting is widespread. Large areas of coral sticks are broken off from a reef. The damage is prodigious. Brain corals grow extremely slowly. Large specimens can be many hundreds of years old. Stony corals are listed in Appendix II of the "Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora" (Washington Convention).