Cladocora caespitosa or Cushion Coral is an endemic madrepora of the Mediterranean, it is a coral also called stony madrepora for the typical shape of its colonies. Cladocora caespitosa Madrepora a Cuscino cushion coral intotheblue.it
It usually lives in depths from 5 to 30 meters deep since it needs sunlight to develop, the light garnet-colored polyps, about 5 millimeters in diameter that form the cushion-shaped colonies, live in symbiosis with algae zooxanthellae of the genus Symbiodinium, which need sunlight to perform photosynthesis. In the video we found a colony of about 50 cm in diameter or perhaps even more but the unusual thing is that we are on a seabed of about 42/43 meters deep where the light struggles to penetrate due to poor visibility conditions.
In rare cases it can be found up to 60 meters deep if the clarity and transparency of the water is constant throughout the year, however the madrepora seems to enjoy good health given the size and presence of live polyps in all parts of the colony.
The cushion madrepora Cladocora caespitosa (Linnaeus, 1758), also commonly known as Stony madrepora for the typical shape of its colonies, is a Hexacorallia class madrepora.
The light garnet-colored Polyps, about 5 millimeters in diameter, form pillow-shaped colonies, living in symbiosis with the zooxanthellae of the genus Symbiodinium. It produces calcium carbonate deposits with which it forms the typical limestone display cases in which it lives.
It is the largest madrepora in the Mediterranean Sea, reaching even 50 centimeters in diameter.
Distribution and habitat
It is an endemic species of the Mediterranean sea where it is already reported from the upper Pliocene. Common on rocky bottoms, from a few meters to a depth of 60 meters.
Fossil colonies of Cladocora caespitosa from Acquafredda di Maratea (Potenza). Upper Pleistocene. They are visible: the “bush” shape of the colonies, the external structure (with longitudinal ribs) and the internal structure (with radial septa) of the individuals.
The colonies grow by budding, but the species spreads through the establishment of planktonic larvae on the substrates most suitable for colonization.