A coral by and large is a colony of polyp animals that is attached to the reef – it sits there, grows onto the reef, sometimes it breaks off but it’s supposed to re-attach or at least stabilize itself. Not so with the endless Goni discovered rolling around Australia like a tumbleweed. Although some corals like boulder corals, disc corals, trachyphyllia and elegance corals may be “free-living” and unattached to the reef, they at least have the sense to have an ‘up’ side and a ‘down’ side.
Well the endless Goni, a likely Goniopora stokesi flowerpot coral didn’t get that memo. With skeleton and tissue totally and evenly covering the entire colony, this is one weird free living coral. The ‘endless Goni’ was named by its collectors at Salty Pets in Queensland Australia. The baseless coral was spotted ‘rolling around in the sand’ of what we presume to be a not so high energy environment.
People say that flowerpot corals are delicate, hard to keep alive and susceptible to succumbing to mechanical damage but as this endless goni shows, Goniopora corals are tougher than we think. Tumbleweed corals are not unheard of, but they are usually developed in more durable species of corals.
Free living, rolling corals have been recorded at Ascension Island in the Atlantic, the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea with Favia, Oculina and corals having documented cases of “tumbleweed coral” development. And let’s not forget the really cool red flowerpot balls that ORA also grew.