Have you ever seen plating corals while scuba diving? We also call them lettuce corals, cabbage coral, scroll coral, or plate coral because of their unique plating or foliose growth form.
Plating corals attach to the rocks either at the center of the coral or on one edge. These corals don’t waste time — once attached they begin reaching for the sunlight and growing outwards and upwards.
Identifying plating coral
The plates can be wide and smooth like a dinner plate, or leafy and crinkled like the edges of a lettuce leaf. These species of coral have adapted to living deeper on reef slopes by spreading out their skeletons. Consequently, they can capture more light, which feeds the photosynthetic algae living inside their tissue. The unique plating and foliose shape can also help trap particles of food passing in the current.
The thinner plates grow quickly, and with optimal conditions, some species like Echinopora can grow a few centimeters per month. In contrast, plates like Turbinaria might only grow a few centimeters per year depending on their age.