Genetics and Reproduction
Coral reproduces both sexually and asexually. Asexual reproduction occurs throughout the year through the budding and branching of individual polyps. Sexual reproduction occurs once per year by expelling both male and female gametes into the surrounding water. Most shallow water coral are hermaphrodites and release both eggs and sperm, while deep sea coral appears to be mostly gonochoric.
Growth Rate & Stages
In shallow water coral the clouds of gametes will float to the surface before they break apart and mingle, while deep sea coral rely upon deep ocean currents. The fertilized eggs enter a larval stage, moving with the currents. Shallow water larvae float on the surface, with many species collecting symbiotic Algae to help convert sunlight to food. Deep sea larvae ride the ocean currents in search of a possible food source as they develop. Once mature, the larvae settle to the ocean floor. Each larva will permanently attach itself to its new home, with its anchor point determining where it's originating reef will expand and how large the reef will grow. The larva will undergo a metamorphosis into a polyp, and remain in this stationary state for the duration of its life. Most new polyps will grow mouths and tentacles to filter or catch food from the waters. They will continue to divide asexually for the rest of their life, growing colonies of identical polyps to form a new coral growth on the reef. Individual polyps can live less than 5 years to well over 500 depending upon the species as well as the suitability of the growing conditions at its anchor site.
Ecology and Habitats
Coral can be found in saltwater throughout Fillimet, and should not be confused with the unrelated Freshwater Coral. Some varieties are unique to shallow waters and rely upon sunlight for at least part of their energy, while others have adapted to thrive in the deepest recesses of the ocean floor. Only the Arcane Coral is known to thrive in both environments.
Dietary Needs and Habits
Most coral eat Fish, Shellfish, or other invertibrates, captured using their tentacles or in some cases through filter-like appendages used to strain small organisms from the currents. Many shallow water coral also utilize energy produced by symbiotic Algae collected during their larval stage, while deep sea coral have been known to convert heat or ocean gasses for additional energy. Some coral have developed a symbiotic relationship with other sea life where their symbiote feeds the corals with portions from their own hunts. The Arcane Coral consumes raw Imperium from the magical fields themselves.
It is unknown if most coral can communicate with each other in the traditional sense, but they do tend to grow in groups. Coral of similar kinds slowly build coral colonies or reefs through their own growth and the gradual buildup of exoskeletons as well as colony size. Different species frequently group together to form a diverse multicolored oasis under the sea.
Coral can be grown in farms, and its growth magically enhanced. Due to time requirements natural growth coral farms are rare. Coral farmed using growth enhancing magic develop variations in their alchemical properties and are thus much cheaper than their natural grown counterparts.
Uses, Products & Exploitation
Dried coral carcasses are frequently used in shore-themed decorative items, along with shellfish shells and other nautical themed items. Bits from various coral are also frequently found as reagents in Alchemy, with various preparation techniques depending upon the coral and the desired reagent effects. Because coral grows so slowly, with the exception of Arcane Coral, ethical gatherers of the coral will either grow them in long-term farms or rely upon dead coral sections broken from the colony by storms or other means. The growth of coral can also be augmented by magical means but this tends to alter the alchemical properties of the coral and therefore yields a much lower cost. Several varieties of coral assist in filtration of the water and are therefore used commercially in saltwater filtration systems, although due to the rarity of saltwater filtration requirements this is not as common as usage of the coral's unrelated Freshwater Coral counterpart.
Geographic Origin and Distribution
Coral can be found throughout the oceans of Fillimet. Some varieties are limited in geographic range while others can be found anywhere with the correct conditions. Shallow water species of coral are especially prevalent in the surprisingly shallow waters of the Lophelian Ocean.
Symbiotic and Parasitic organisms
Many coral species have developed symbiotic relationships with particular types of fish, invertibrates, or other ocean life. Others rely solely upon their own abilities or a community of their own species for survival. Shallow water coral species typically rely on symbiotic Algae to supplement their diet. These algae colonies are acquired while the coral is in its larval form, prior to its metamorphosis into a polyp. Most coral are food to some other life form. A variety of sea parasites have developed to take advantage of coral as their host. A few varieties of Parasitic Coral meanwhile prey upon fish, shellfish, or other invertebrates.
- Scientific Name
- 5 to 500 years depending upon the species
- Conservation Status
- Near Threatened
- Body Tint, Colouring and Marking
- Coral colorations are as varied as the coral themselves. Bright colors as well as dull, muted colors are equally prevalent. Many coral are all the same color or different shades of a single color while others display patterns in multiple colorations.