Things that eat coral

Since the first day of Coral Week we’ve been joking that a proper invertebrate carnival should include recipes, especially if its Scallop Week or Oyster Week.* Alas, nobody eats coral, even as a snack. Yes, people eat sea anemones and jellyfish, but they would have to be seriously, deliriously, Castaway hungry to eat a coral. Or else corals would have been gone long ago… But, this does NOT mean coral is without natural enemies.

shapeimage_1_med.jpgIf you scuba dive on West Atlantic coral reefs, you probably know that Hawksbill turtles frequent the habitat, and eat sponges, but did you know that sea turtles eat octocorals? Turtle hugger J Nichols posts a National Geographic Critter-Cam video with a unique hitchhiker’s view of a Green Turtle foraging for sea pens. Stranded sea turtle stomachs can contain sea pens in large numbers. I think it serves them right for eating corals. They shouldn’t do that.

acanthaster_sm.jpgEven worse is Chris Mah’s Echinoblog, which actually pays tribute to asteroids like the Crown of Thorns seastars that wreak havoc on the shallow water corals of the Great Barrier Reef. It’s sad really. Asteroids are a terrible menace and a threat, by far the worst of the Echinoderms. I mean, they’re practically cannibals. Chris revels in half a dozen cold killers in his post “Echinoderms Eating Corals! Mmmmmm…” It makes me want to cry. Don’t they know corals are endangered?

*Further evidence in support of “Gorton’s Law

Peter Etnoyer (406 Posts)

PhD candidate at Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi and doctoral fellow Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies.