How can you tell fire coral?

Answered by John Hunt

Fire coral can be identified by its distinct colors and unique appearance. One of the key ways to tell fire coral apart from other corals is by its coloration. Most fire coral is a brownish-orange or brownish-green shade. This color variation can help divers recognize it underwater.

Additionally, fire coral often has white tips, which further distinguishes it from other corals. These white tips can be seen on the branches or blades of the coral, giving it a striking and recognizable appearance. So, if you spot a coral with brownish-orange or brownish-green color and white tips, there’s a good chance it is fire coral.

However, it’s important to note that fire coral can take on different forms, which can make identification a bit more challenging. It can be found in blade, branching, box, and encrusting forms. The blade form of fire coral resembles flat sheets or plates, while the branching form has thin, finger-like branches. The box form appears as square or rectangular shapes, and the encrusting form looks like a thin layer covering the substrate.

To identify fire coral accurately, it’s crucial to observe not only its coloration but also its growth pattern and overall shape. By paying attention to these features, divers can differentiate fire coral from other similar-looking corals.

It’s worth mentioning that fire coral can be mistaken for other corals, such as stinging hydroids or other encrusting corals. Therefore, it’s always recommended to exercise caution and consult with experts or experienced divers if there is any uncertainty about the identification.

In my personal experience as a diver, I have encountered fire coral on numerous occasions. The vibrant colors and distinct white tips of the coral always catch my attention underwater. I remember one particular dive where I came across a beautiful branching fire coral with its delicate, finger-like branches extending outwards. The brownish-orange hue mixed with the white tips created a captivating contrast, making it easy to identify as fire coral.

Being able to tell fire coral apart from other corals relies on careful observation of its color, growth pattern, and shape. By familiarizing themselves with these characteristics, divers can confidently recognize and appreciate the beauty of fire coral while staying cautious of its potential stinging effect.