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Merulina ampliata

(Ellis and Solander, 1786)

Colonies are laminar or subarborescent, with these different growth-forms characteristically occurring together in large colonies. However, colonies may be composed only of plates or, in shallow water, primarily of branches. Valleys are short, straight, and spread in a fan before dividing. They radiate from the colony centre on flat surfaces, but are highly contorted on branches. Flat surfaces often have concentric growth lines. Tentacles are usually extended only at night.

Colour: A variety of pale colours, usually blue (which may photograph pink) or pale brown.

Habitat: A wide variety of reef environments, especially lagoons.

Abundance: Usually common, rare in the Red Sea.

Similar species: Merulina scabricula

Taxonomic note: Taxonomic note: This species is divisible into several smaller semi-distinct taxonomic units. Source reference: Veron (2000). Taxonomic references: Chevalier (1975), Veron and Pichon (1980). Additional identification guides: Randall and Myers (1983), Veron (1986), Nishihira and Veron (1995).

Map displaying probable distribution of species. Points indicate recorded sightings from OBIS.
Merulina ampliata.  Houtman Abrolhos Islands, south-western Australia.  Colonies sometimes consist of tiers or whorls of laminae.  Ed Lovell.

Merulina ampliata. Houtman Abrolhos Islands, south-western Australia. Colonies sometimes consist of tiers or whorls of laminae. Ed Lovell.

Merulina ampliata.  Great Barrier Reef, Australia.  Common colour of plate-like colony.  Ed Lovell.

Merulina ampliata. Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Common colour of plate-like colony. Ed Lovell.

Merulina ampliata.  Philippines.  Common colour of plate-like colony.  Charlie Veron.

Merulina ampliata. Philippines. Common colour of plate-like colony. Charlie Veron.

Merulina ampliata.  Papua New Guinea.  Colonies composed of mixed plates and branches.  Charlie Veron.

Merulina ampliata. Papua New Guinea. Colonies composed of mixed plates and branches. Charlie Veron.

Merulina ampliata.  Great Barrier Reef, Australia.  An encrusting colony.  Mary Stafford-Smith.

Merulina ampliata. Great Barrier Reef, Australia. An encrusting colony. Mary Stafford-Smith.

Merulina ampliata.  Great Barrier Reef, Australia.  Detail of a plate edge and contorted upgrowth.  Charlie Veron.

Merulina ampliata. Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Detail of a plate edge and contorted upgrowth. Charlie Veron.

Merulina ampliata.  Great Barrier Reef, Australia.  Variation in the structure of contorted upgrowths.  Charlie Veron.

Merulina ampliata. Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Variation in the structure of contorted upgrowths. Charlie Veron.

Merulina ampliata.  Red Sea.  Colonies composed of mixed plates and branches.  Charlie Veron.

Merulina ampliata. Red Sea. Colonies composed of mixed plates and branches. Charlie Veron.

Merulina ampliata.  Indonesia.  Variation in the structure of contorted upgrowths.  Charlie Veron.

Merulina ampliata. Indonesia. Variation in the structure of contorted upgrowths. Charlie Veron.

Merulina ampliata.  Great Barrier Reef, Australia.  Showing valleys.

Merulina ampliata. Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Showing valleys.

Merulina ampliata.  Great Barrier Reef, Australia.  Showing a common colony structure.

Merulina ampliata. Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Showing a common colony structure.

Merulina ampliata.  Great Barrier Reef, Australia.  Showing corallites.

Merulina ampliata. Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Showing corallites.

Merulina ampliata.  Thailand.  Showing plate formation.

Merulina ampliata. Thailand. Showing plate formation.

Merulina ampliata.  Thailand.  Showing corallites.

Merulina ampliata. Thailand. Showing corallites.

Merulina ampliata.  Great Barrier Reef, Australia.  Showing branching pattern.

Merulina ampliata. Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Showing branching pattern.

Merulina ampliata.  Great Barrier Reef, Australia.  Showing valleys.

Merulina ampliata. Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Showing valleys.