Massive Porites Coral
National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa is known for its stunning array of corals – the quarter-square-mile Fagatele Bay alone contains some 200 different species. Among the most iconic corals are the massive species in the Porites genus, which include Fale Bommie (Big Momma), one of the largest coral heads in the world.
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Porites lutea, P. lobata, P. austaliensis, and P. solida
DIET: Nutrients from symbiotic algae, small plankton
FALE BOMMIE HEIGHT: 20 feet
FALE BOMMIE CIRCUMFERENCE: 135 feet
THREATS: Ocean warming, coral bleaching, ocean acidification, land-based pollution
FUN FACT: Each year, massive Porites corals generate new growth, and scientists can read cores from the coral structure just like rings from a tree. In this way, scientists can track changing oceanographic conditions over the last five centuries.