Check out this gorgeous Scolymia lacera, photographed by Bob Fenner off the coast of Roatan. The island is the largest of Honduras’ Bay Islands, and is near the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the largest barrier reef in the Caribbean Sea (and the second-largest reef in the world, after the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia).
These large polyp stony corals are generally grey or brown, sometimes green, but this specimen is an incredible shade of turquoise; stunning and very unusual. Part of the family Mussidae, it can be found in shallow-water reefs in the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, the Bahamas, Bermuda, and southern Florida. Both beautiful and aggressive, the coral extends its stinging filaments to readily drive back, attack, and often kill its neighbors, in order to stay as exposed as possible to the sunlight, which the photosynthetic (symbiotic) zooxanthellae in its tissues uses to produce organic compounds. This fleshy disk coral also consumes plankton (mainly at night) catching the tiny organisms with its ring of short tentacles.