The warm tropical waters surrounding Tokelau and the three atolls that make up the island are the perfect home for some distinctive looking corals.
StampNews.com encourages our readers to appreciate this stamp issue that focuses on two types of coral that are found in Tokelau’s tropical waters and learn more about the common mushroom coral and double-star coral which inhabit Tokelau’s temperate waters. So, let`s begin!
Diploastrea heliopora is most commonly known as double-star coral and is made up of a number of coralites which gives it a honeycomb-like appearance. Common mushroom corals or Fungia fungites are different from other corals as they are solitary forms. Rather than attaching to the sea floor or building off pre-existing corals, they remain unattached, which leaves them free to roam. Tokelau’s tropical climate provides these corals with the warm waters they need to thrive.
45c Common mushroom coral Fungia fungites stamp
The juveniles of this species mature while attached to a coral reef or surrounding sea floor. The flat rounded top of this coral, along with the elongated stalk that connects it to the chosen surface, gives it a mushroom like appearance. It can take up to eight years for this coral to reach maturity, after which time it detaches from its foothold and moves around freely.
$1.40 Common mushroom coral Fungia fungites stamp
While this coral is generally widespread it faces many threats to its population. This species is particularly susceptible to bleaching and destruction of habitat. It is also frequently harvested for trade and display in aquariums. As this species is a reef-building coral, it is also threatened by the increasing number of crown-of-thorns starfish which eat reef-building coral.
$2.00 Double-star coral Diploastrea heliopora stamp
This species can be traced through fossil records as far back as 55 million years ago. It is part of the Faviidae family which has 24 genera. However the Diploastrea heliopora is the only species with its particular genus. This distinctive coral forms in colonies that can grow up to two metres in height and five metres in width.
$3.00 Double-star coral Diploastrea heliopora stamp
The exact number of corals for this species is unknown, however with around a 20% decrease in the world’s reefs, it is thought that this coral will be following the trend and be declining in numbers also. Non-sustainable harvest for aquarium trade is also having an effect on the number of these corals found in the wild.