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Turbinaria bifrons (Family Dendrophylliidae)

Disc Coral, Double-faced Coral


Double-faced Coral may be found across northern tropical Australian shores including WA, NT and all Qld shores. It is common on east Australian temperate shores, but is uncommon on the west coast (WA, NT, QLD).


Double-faced Coral colonies start as a flat laminate on the rock surface and then grow into long, upright, double-faced fronds that may be quite contorted in shape. Some colonies may grow to a metre across. The small corallites that form the colony are uniform, cone-shaped and regularly spaced. The corallite tentacles are grey, brown or green in colour.

The colony skeleton is made up of thousands of individual polyps. Each polyp sits within a cavity that may be immersed or has a tubular shape. The cavity has porous walls. If disturbed the tentacled polyp can retract into the cavity for protection. The septa walls that divide the holding cavity are short and neat.

Double-faced Coral colonies may be massive, plate- or foliage-like. They are extremely variable in form, being quite different in shallow water than the colonies found in deeper waters. This variation is due to the effects of the available light. Unlike most corals, Turbinaria species breed in autumn when sea temperatures fall.

Ecology/Way of Life:

Double-faced Coral prefers to be attached to a rocky substrate and is one coral that extends into the tidal zone to be uncovered during low tides.

Other Comments:

Turbinaria bifrons, Bruggeman, 1877. Turbinaria comes from the Latin word turbo or turbinis, meaning a whirl or spinning top. Bifrons comes from two Latin words, bi meaning two or twice, and frons meaning a leaf.

Further Reading:

Davey, K. (1998) A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australiap.35, New Holland Press, Sydney.


Text, map & photograph by Keith Davey.

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