Echinopora forskaliana is an uncommon species of stony coral that we’d never heard of other than seeing it in passing in Veron’s Corals of the World. But now thanks to a pair of great photographs by Andrey Ryanskiy we can more deeply appreciate the unique growth and appearance of this rarely seen species found only in the Western Indian Ocean.
This small colony was discovered in the Red Sea at Marsa Ghozlani, in the middle part of a small semi-closed almost circular murky bay, below the small shallow reef, at a depth of three to four meters, or around 10-14 feet. Wee’ve always said that bad diving makes for the most interesting corals and this adage holds true with the small Echinopora forskaliana growing in water with a visibility of just two meters, so pretty dark and murky.
You would be forgiven for thinking the coral looks quite similar to Astreopora due to the enlarged corallites forming small mounds that lift up each polyp from the base of the coral. The beaded grainy texture is the tell-tale feature of the spiny Echinopora genus and this colony displays a light olive green base and pink corallites which we know would look amazing in a reef aquarium with modern lighting, especially with the lavender on green coral palette of Diploastrea moon corals.
Having seen a huge swath of the corals in the Caribbean and from most of the Indo-Pacific it’s incredibly exciting and refreshing to get a fresh look at a species as unique as Echinopora forskaliana, no doubt it would be a very welcome coral strain in the reef aquarium world if we ever had a legal path to get it into aquaculture. We never thought we’d see Red Sea clams again so perhaps there is hope that one day we might see maricultured corals from Egypt or Madagascar and if it ever happens we’ll certainly keep the small mountainous corallites of Echinopora forskaliana on our radar.