Florida Keys

A close up of corals

Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA

Staghorn Coral

The Florida Keys are built on layers of old corals and new growth. Among the most iconic coral species throughout the Caribbean, staghorn corals grow quickly and form dense thickets. Through a new plan called Mission: Iconic Reefs, the sanctuary and its partners are working to restore staghorn reefs throughout the Keys.

A world map highlighting parts of the Caribbean

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Acropora cervicornis

DIET: Plankton; sugars produced by symbiotic algae


THREATS: Ocean warming, ocean acidification, overfishing, disease, pollution

STATUS: Endangered

FUN FACT: Like other stony corals, staghorn corals live in partnership with a symbiotic algae called zooxanthellae. The zooxanthellae are photosynthetic and produce energy from the sun, which they share with the corals in exchange for shelter.