CRITTER: Meet ‘ako‘ako‘a kohe — the mushroom coral

  • Terry Lilley / contributed

    The mushroom coral has hair like cilia on its top which filter feed and bring the food to the central mouth. They also grow algae in the coral tissue that produces sugars through photosynthesis that the coral feeds on.

  • Terry Lilley / contributed

    Most stony corals build coral colonies. A single lobe coral may have thousands of small individual coral polyps all stacked on top of each other like an apartment complex for people.

The mushroom coral is the most unusual coral species here in Hawai‘i. Its Hawaiian name is ‘ako‘ako‘a kohe, which means “vagina coral,” and in old Hawai‘i they were also called razor corals due to their hard, sharp ridges.