Guide to local Sarco identification

Discussion in 'ID Needed' started by brentch, 14 Mar 2014.

  1. brentch

    brentch

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    Here's a rough guide to the common leathers we get in RSA. Unfortunately the phenotype is quite plastic, so there is variability in the macro-structure based on the environment...

    This is what I got from our very own Kerry Etsebeth, a PhD student in the MAREVOL (Marine Evolution) laboratory at UKZN.

    "First and foremost there is no way to ID in-field. Determining the microstructure of polyps and sclerites (yup, even sorfties have scletrites containing CaCO3) is the main way we ID these corals. That being said the 'blind man's' guide goes a little something like this:

    Sarcophyton glaucum:

    Toadstool/ mushroom leather coral- white rectractable polyps on a browny-purple capitulum (surface disk), pale yellow (not neon) stalk and under capitulum. Not a lot of folds, if that makes sense.

    sarco 2.jpeg

    RB 3.2b.jpg
     
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  3. brentch

    brentch Thread Starter

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    S. elegans- yellow leather coral-like glaucum are both easily confused with one another. Both are mushroom shaped with a smooth stalk. Elegans has less of a stalk and grows closer to the rock work. It's more an all-over yellow colour and it's capitulum (surface disc) has more folded edges giving it a ruffled look.

    elegans 2.JPG

    elegans 1.JPG
     
  4. brentch

    brentch Thread Starter

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    S. trocheliophorum- elephant ear coral- has many deep folds on its capitulum- hence the name. It has a cauliflower look (from a distance) and its polyps are shorter and finer, brown or green compared to the other sarcos. Flesh is pretty much the same colour again as the others- yellow, tan etc. They grow larger than other sarco's.

    trocheliophorum 2.jpg

    trocheliophorum 1.jpg
     
  5. brentch

    brentch Thread Starter

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    Lobophytum sp.- 'Lobe-like fingers-' Colonies with short wide stalk or encrusting. Polyparium with lobes or crests, sometimes flat. Colour of colonies: light yellow, beige, brown, greenish. Polyps often white.You might confuse them at times with Sarco BUT just keep in mind they are 'crusty' and lobed.

    lobophytum.JPG
     
  6. brentch

    brentch Thread Starter

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    Here's a pic of a Sarco being predated upon by an Egg Cowrie, Ovula ovum.

    Cowrie eating Sarco.jpg
     
  7. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

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    Will those egg cowries eat this Sarco up completely? Or will they move on to the next before destroying this one?
     
  8. brentch

    brentch Thread Starter

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    Predation on corals is common but they will not eat whole colonies. The rate of predation is something like 1% of these corals will show signs of bite marks or radula scraping. It really isn't that much, probably because they feed on many different species of coral and detritus too.
     
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