26th March, 2016. Funafuti
Blue coral is a species of colonial coral and the only species in the family Helioporidae and the only Octocoral known to produce a massive skeleton. This skeleton is formed of aragonite, similar to that of scleractinia. Individual polyps live in tubes within the skeleton and are connected by a thin layer of tissue over the outside of the skeleton. It was described by Pallas in 1766.
Despite being common in some areas and having a large range, the blue coral has been given the conservation status of a vulnerable species by the IUCN. Its population is unknown but it is believed to be decreasing in line with the global destruction of coral reefs; it is threatened by aquarium harversting, bleaching, habitat destruction, the acidification of oceans, and climate change. It is found in the eastern and western Indian ocean, and the eastern central, western central, northwestern, and southwestern Pacific Ocean; its range includes the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, Japan and the Ryukyu Islands. Its largest colony is believed to be located off Ishigaki Island in the Yaeyama Islands, southwestern Japan. It is found in reefs with depths below 2metres, or reefs exposed to waves, flats, intertidal regions, and sometimes in marginal habitats. The blue coral is listed under CITES Appendixes I and II.