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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Joanna James Joanna James
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Types of Corals in the Maldives - Nine Names to Know and Nurture

Corals are not just organisms that make a habitat for the aquatic life, but it is the dead corals that form the islands of Maldives. Here is a list of corals most likely to be spotted during your dive.


Brain Coral

The Brain Coral looks like a mass of solid, unmoving rock during the day when it is in rest. Growing to a massive width of about 6 feet in diameter, the Brain Coral's lifespan is about 900 years. However, as the night falls, the Brain Coral wake up from its slumber and extend their tentacles for feeding.


Staghorn Coral

These are a type of coral that are quick to grow and quick to claim territory. Growing closer to the ocean surface, around 30m in depth, the Staghorn Coral tend to suffer the most during storms and strong ocean conditions. However, they were among the quicker ones to regrow to their former glory after the 1998 bleaching event of El Nino.


Whip Coral

The Whip Coral is often found towards the deeper parts of Maldives Coral Reef. They look like a string or a piece of rope that extends from the sandy coral bed. Although they appear string-like, the Whip Coral is actually quite stiff. If you look at the masses of Whip Coral closely, you might see shrimps, tiny gobies, and Xeno crab.


Star Corals

Star Corals look like a colony of colourful Patricks from Spongebob. They come in an array of colours and vary in size. The Star Corals are found hugging the boulders on the seabed, creating a collage of sorts with their own bodies.


Sea Fans

Also known as Gorgonians, the Sea Fans are a type of coral that is extremely fragile. They have a wide girth and spread horizontally as if some lady is holding out her fan in the tropical waters. They are among the most easily damaged corals due to their fragility. Thus, be mindful that your fins do not brush against them during your dive.


Carnation Coral

Similar to its namesake, the Carnation Coral is a delightful organism that is usually pink or orange in colour. They look like a tightly pleated Spanish dress. It is one of the types of corals promoted under Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas' Coral Adoption program, so you are free to adopt a baby Carnation Coral as your own.


Tree Corals

True to its name, Tree Corals look like paintings of little bonsai trees, reaching towards the tropical sun from the depths of the Indian Ocean. You will see beautiful vein-like designs on them if you care to closely observe.


Bubble Corals

These may look like fish eggs to the untrained eye. Bubble Corals are the strongest coral there is on the reef, and look like a pulsating luminous mass of fleshy eggs.


Sea Pens

When you dive deeper than 12m, you might see a creature like an old quill stuck on the seabed. These are Sea Pen corals, that truly live up to its name. The "feathers" come in a number of colours, and sway to the ocean current looking like they are waiting for someone to pick them up and continue writing the story of the deep blue sea.