Tubastrea Sun Tunnel, Gato Island
Tubastrea is a type of non-photosynthetic coral popular in aquariums for their puffy polyps and love for being feed. The bright orange, yellow, or pink polyps come out at night to feed but can also be extended during the day if they are tucked under a wall, or inside a cave.
We’ve seen clusters of these corals in specially designed NPS biotope tanks, but nothing prepared us for the endless walls of Tubastrea corals we found while diving in the Philippines.
Lucky our friend BugDreamer joined us for this trip and was able to capture some video clips of this amazing dive site. It was truly a sight to behold and something still photography alone wouldn’t do this site justice.
We always laugh when these polyps are called sun corals because they are quite the opposite. Sure their bright sunny color and shape resemble a sun, but you find them living in the darkest places.
We were blown away at the number of puffy polyp hanging upside down and on every cave wall while diving around Gato Island, Malapascua Philippines. In fact, we asked to go back for a 2nd day just to explore this unique environment.
While in the cave we search for other non-photosynthetic corals but this environment was completely dominated by the orange Tubastrea faulkneri. Check out this classic Reef Builders article to learn how to tell the difference between the two common aquarium sun corals, Tubastraea faulkneri and Tubastraea coccinea.
If you’re looking for some Tubastrea inspiration, Gato Island Malapascua is the place. And we can only imagine how crazy it would be to dive this site while the corals are spawning!! I guess this is just one more dive to add to the coral spotting bucket list!