Sponge Coral

That's its trade name, of course. Known to marine biologists as melithaea ochracea (say that five times fast!), sponge coral really has nothing to do with sponges. It just looks like a sponge. Gem corals are hard, underwater, organically produced tree-like structures usually found attached to sea floors. These underwater trees are the byproducts of small cylindrical, tube-like colonizing sea creatures called polyps. The holes in the sponge coral are the homes of these individual polyps. Unlike most other gem corals, the sponge coral polyp homes rarely grow shut, and these open vacant homes are what have given the sponge coral its name. Locality. Found mainly in the South China Sea, from Taiwan down to Indonesia, the sponge coral has a distinct fan-shaped appearance underwater. Many ornamental sponge corals have been used—and simulated—for decorative use in aquariums. Until recent
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