Bubble corals are slowly becoming one of my favorite species to photograph. Despite having only a handful of species I’ve still managed to find beautiful diversity, in bubble shape, size, and color.
While the common color is white, or tan, I’ve been able to find some stand out colonies with splotchy green patters, and cat’s eye marking under fluoro lights. One advantage about photographing these corals in the wild in capturing huge colonies, or being able to get up close and personal with its tentacle filled nighttime appearance.
Bubble corals are a type of stony coral, with round grape shape, or teardrop shaped bubbles. The inflated bubble as part of the polyp’s tentacles which inflate with water during the day. The extra surface area of the bubble allows the zooxanthellae to capture more light.
Bubble corals are just big polyps and have a mouth in the center. I have been searching for a perfect shot showing off the mouth at the center and finally got it on my last trip! This is a great coral to show divers as they often believe bubble corals are fish eggs until you can show them the polyp’s mouth. At night these corals swap their soft bubbly appearance for long pointy feeding tentacle.
The most common type has round bubbles either with a meandering skeleton, Plerogyra sinuosa, or branching skeleton, Plerogyra simplex. You can also find a massive form of bubble coral with a maze-like skeleton.
The bubbles of this meandering type form in little pearl shapes and when closed up as night the meandering skeleton is more apparent. This coral is in a separate genus Physogyra lichtensteini, and is the last image in this series.
Here are ten of my favorite bubble coral photos taken while scuba diving around Indonesia.