So much sexier than a Prius is the Hybrid Coral, in my opinion anyway. Like any good romance novel, the story takes place under the light of a full moon. Add the ocean salt spray and a bit of sand in unwanted places and this is a story for the lovers. The threatened Staghorn (Acropora cervicornis) and Elkhorn (Acropora palmata) corals took advantage of the setting – awakening from what is gloriously described as “a year of sexual slumber” – sounds pretty miserable if you ask me. Someone brought their game, laid on the smooth moves and an epic spawning ensued. No word yet if cuddling followed or at the very least, if hands were held afterward. I don’t know if he called her the next day either, or if this was strictly a one night stand. But GASP! Let me throw a wrench into this beautiful love story, a third party. The studly Acropora prolifera appears to be overtaking precious reef real estate between the two lovebirds that are Staghorn and Elkhorn. Wait – prolifera is actually the mutant spawn of the two. Try to keep up, fellow reefers, I sure as hell can’t. In what’s probably the least exciting way possible, corals mate not unlike trees spewing pollen into the sea. Not even touching! They just release their fatty eggs and sperm all over the ocean floor (rude) and hope for the best. They’re not even picky – an “oceanic orgy” ensues. It’s this lack of standards that warrants the love children of above mentioned coral species. The bummer here? These mutant corals are essentially dead-ends, a mule, so to speak. They’re generally sterile, and those capable of reproduction more often than not produce inferior offspring that are unadapted and unable to reproduce themselves. In rare cases, hybrids can actually thrive. So what’s the outcome? Will this mutant offspring eventually lead to the demise of our beloved Staghorn and Elkhorn? Will the adult hybrids outcompete their frisky parents? Stay tuned for what I can only dub the nomenclature of “The Battle of the Antler Corals”. I’m so glad I’m a human.
.<—– Elkhorn Sperm.