22 Photos - Apr 18, 2015
Photo: The Squarrose Fire Coral or Box Fire Coral, Millepora squarrosa, is one of the 2 or 3  most abundant corals on the fringing reef of the Recreational Zone of Barbados' Folkstone Marine Protected Area. (It's not a true coral, but is commonly described as a "coral"  because its general form and role in reefs is similar to true corals.). Squarrose Fire Coral forms  intriguing geometric patterns on the reef, and its "boxes" provide habitat for an array of plants and animals.

There's lots of materials there for student science projects, and otherwise to just enjoy and protect.

These photos were taken on several days from January 23rd to April 17th  2015. I encourage their use for educational purposes and nature oriented advocacy  under the conditions of a Creative Commons License at http://versicolor.ca/reedficense

For more photos on this reef, see http://versicolor.ca/reefPhoto: This could be an ancient city on a mountainside!Photo: Golden View.Photo: Yellowtail Damselfish over Squarrose Fire CoralPhoto: An old mostly dead colony with coral (Montasrea cavernosa) and branching calcareous seaweeds inside the boxes.Photo: Brown Chromis over Squarrose Fire CoralPhoto: The three species of Fire Coral in the Caribbean. All are found on the Barbados reef, but the Squarrose Coral is much more abundant than the other two species.Photo: Finger Coral, Porites porites, growing in the boxes.Photo: This beautiful Branching Anemone  filled several boxes.Photo: Burgundy coloured Lace CoralPhoto: Feather Duster and lots of encrusting things.Photo: A very common resident, at least in daytime: a Squirrelfish, possibly the Longspine Squirelfish. They grow to a foot long, so these would be juveniles.Photo: Also very common: Yellowtail Damselfish, juvenile at left.Photo: There are many well coated gastropods in the boxes. Most turn out to contain Hermit Carbs, but this one was live.Photo: I got a little warning about sticking my fingers in the boxes: a small Spotted Morray Eel was not pleased. I have a scar on my middle finger from a Moray bite in the 1960s, so I give them due respect.Photo: Hermit Crab. Note the red encrusting algae,  calcified branching algae and soft algae.Photo: The green alga is a species of Caulerpa, possibly C. serrulata.Photo: The branching calcified algae (seaweeds) are species of Amphiroa. The thicker one is A. hancockii, not prev. recorded for Barbados. The finer ones may be A, brasiliana, also not previously recorded for Barbados. Aggregations of a filamentous green alga are also seen here.Photo: Wrasses on a feeding frenzy.Photo: The Yellowtail Damselfish does not like Wrasses plundering its gardens...Photo: ...and vigorously chases them away. This type of territorial behaviour is well known for Yellowtail Damselfish and a number of other species of damselfish.

The next slide is a short video of damselfishes defending their territory. Often you see aggregations of wrasses around particular boxes. I discovered I could induce a wrasse feeding frenzy, followed quickly by agitated Yellowtail Damselfish, by scraping some of the branching calcareous algae on the walls.Video: Besides the Yellowtail Damselfish, there is another smaller very dark damselfish at play which I was not able to catch in a good photo. It may be a Longfin Damselfish.