Modern communications and social media tools have brought the aquarium world closer together than ever before, but there’s still a big gap between Wild Corals and Aquarium Corals. Most reef aquarists only get to see small pieces of coral, either as frags for sale or very small pieces that would hardly qualify as a colony.
On our recent trip to the Solomon Islands we came across a fantastic, sprawling colony of Montipora palawanensis. This is the closest species identification we have for a multitude of exciting Monti strains including the Beach Bum, Jaggernaut etc. and this massive wild colony had a coloration and pattern highly suggestive of one of one of our favorite strains, the WWC Kung Pao Monti.
One thing to keep in mind when observing the photos and video is that this coral was illuminated with underwater LED dive lights with a color temperature of 6500 Kelvin. We spotted this colony at a depth of around 45 feet/10 meters and it was drop dead gorgeous with a complicated subtlety of colors and patterns more visible in the blue-shifted light at this depth.
The combination of orange, gold and tiny hints of green is a perfect dress for the highly verrucated surface, and the touch of blue polyps are just what we want in a precious aquarium coral strain. This was not the only standout Montipora colony we spent time with while diving in the Solomon Islands but it certainly was the most ‘photogenic’ in the wild reef environment, and a taste of corals to come when we start seeing shipments from this part of the world sometime this year.