Table coral has a short, stout stem attached by a spreading base. Branches arise from the top of the stem and spread in a horizontal rather than a vertical direction, often fusing together.
The closely set and interlocking branches form a roughly circular plate sometimes two or three metres in diameter.
Acropora species are among the fastest growing corals, with upward growth between 10 and 20 cm per year. This is achieved through their porous skeleton and the branched habit that will re-establish themselves readily when damaged.
In the Caribbean, Acropora colonies are brown or yellowish in colour, often with white tips. In the Indo-Pacific, though, they are among the most brightly coloured corals on the reef. Acropora is an important reef-building coral and often dominates shallow areas. It provides shelter for a variety of small fishes and other animals.
Table corals are the most vulnerable to storm damage. Their broad, flat top supported by a narrow stalk makes them more susceptable to strong wave forces than bushy or mounded corals. However, severe storms, by themselves, would do not pose a large threat to reefs. Young colonies do not form tables and the Acropora corals grow and mature quickly.
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