Devonshire Cup Coral
The cup-shaped calcified skeleton protects the small coral polyp. The sticky tentacle strap the suspended zooplankton and organic particles that float in the water and draws them into the polyps mouth. The Devonshire cup coral can be a range of translucent colours. The mouth has a zigzag pattern around it which helps you distinguish it from an anemone.
Normally found in ones or twos it can be found in groups of up to four, a barnacle (Pyrgoma anglicum) often attaches itself to the calcified cup.
Breeding - The Polyp spawns in early spring releasing Gametes through the mouth - Gametes are a reproductive cell which carries half the genetic information of an individual. They are fertilised in the sea when a male and female gamete fuse.
After 2 days the free-swimming larvae are fully formed and start feeding. Around 9 weeks later they start attaching themselves to any firm surface and become corals.
There are two sub-species of Devonshire cup coral identified by the depth of the habitat. The first is a shallow water species, called Caryophyllia smithii var. Smithii; which has a larger wider skeleton cup and occurs in water up to 100 metres in depth usually in deep shaded pools. The other species has a smaller and narrower cup shape and is found in deeper water from 50 to 1000 metres in depth. The species is known as Caryophyllia smithii var.clavus.
Latin name: Caryophyllia smithii
Habitat: Rocky areas, tidal pools, artificial structures. It is more abundant below the low tide line down to 200m but has been discovered at depths of 1000m.
Distribution: The Devonshire Cup coral got its name when it was discovered in 1860 and was thought to exist only on the south east coast of England. Now it has been found all over south-west Europe, the Mediterranean, and in Britain, where it occurs around the south and west coasts, north to the Shetland Islands.
Size: It can grow up to 2.5 centimetres in width reaching 1.5 centimetres tall.
Source: www.arkive.org www.devonwildlifetrust.org