Potato chips coral Pavona cactus

Identity card

Potato chips coral

Scientific name:
Pavona cactus
Year of description:
IUCN Status:

Tropical zone of the Indo-West Pacific Ocean, Red Sea.


Between depths of 0 and 40 m along the neritic zone, i.e. close to the coast.


A few centimetres, the leaves are 4 to 5 mm thick.



Potato chips coral Pavona cactus

Unicellular algae known as zooxanthellae help the coral to build its skeleton!

This coral with a calcareous skeleton is a Scleractinian. It is a reef-builder and grows more slowly than soft coral. It lives in symbiosis with zooxanthellae, which help to precipitate calcium dissolved in water by absorbing carbon dioxide from the water during photosynthesis.

Did you know?

Where is the animal to be found?

The potato chip coral lives in the tropical zone of the Indo-West Pacific Ocean and in the Red Sea. It is found at depths of between 0 and 40 m along the neritic zone, i.e. close to the coast.

How can it be recognised?

It is known as potato chip coral and is shaped like a leaf.  It forms thin, twisted sheets to capture the sun's energy more effectively. It is various shades of brown, often with whitish edges.

The colonies form masses of small leaves a few centimetres long and 4 to 5 mm thick.

What is distinctive about it?

The potato chip coral is a hard coral with a calcareous skeleton. Hard corals are important reef builders that grow more slowly than soft corals. This coral lives in symbiosis with zooxanthellae. The coral feeds primarily on algal waste, but it also captures plankton with its tentacles.

It is very sensitive to bleaching.

Threat and protective measure

Appendix II of CITES: this means that its international trade is monitored. Depending on the country, it is subject to quotas (Indonesia in 2022, Malaysia in 2023) or even a ban on traffic (total ban for Mexico in 2023). Its trade is also regulated in Europe (Annex B of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations).

Where can I find it at Nausicaá?

Mankind and shores

Potato chips coral Pavona cactus

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