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Great star coral (Montastraea cavernosa) is easy to identify because of the size of the polyps - as large as the end of a person's thumb. It is one of four species of Montastraea found at the Flower Gardens. It is one of the participants in the mass spawning event that occurs 8 and 10 nights after the full moon. The spawning event has been studied by University of Texas researchers, Dr. Peter Vize, and Derek Hagman, since the early 1990's. The phenomenon of mass spawning corals in the Atlantic was first documented at the Flower Gardens in 1991 by recreational divers. (photo: Dr. Stephen Gittings)

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