Ornate Ghost Pipefishes take up the colour of the environment they settle in after swimming around in the plankton as larvae. Here, a mature female can be seen hiding within the black coral.
The living tissue of black corals are often brilliantly coloured ~ whites, yellow, greens… but the name comes from the distinctive black or dark brown colour of its skeleton.
Tiny spines cover the surface of the skeleton. It has often been called ‘little thorn coral’.
In this silhouette ~ the body of the little pipefish can be seen mimicking the thorny texture of the surrounding corals… shape camouflage!
Black coral is listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
In Hawaii, black coral is called ‘ēkaha kū moana and is the official state gem of Hawaii.