, Volume 28, Issue 4, p 865
Date: 21 May 2009

Opportunistic feeding by the fungiid coral Fungia scruposa on the moon jellyfish Aurelia aurita

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The Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea) is characterized by seasonal plankton blooms which are driven by vertical nutrient upwelling during winter (Genin et al. 1995). In March 2009, following the seasonal upwelling, large numbers of the moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) were recorded at the local fringing reefs of Eilat, at depths of 2–20 m (Fig. 1a). During this event, several large (ca. 20–25 cm) solitary corals (Fungia scruposa) were observed to feed on these jellyfish (Fig. 1b, c). A. aurita is known to be eaten by a wide variety of relatively large predators, including fish, sea turtles and even sea birds; however, it has never been reported as a coral’s prey. Despite the fact that hermatypic corals may feed heterotrophically on a broad variety of sources ranging in size from bacteria to mesozooplankton (up to 1,000 μm) (Houlbrèque and Ferrier-Pagès 2009), this is the first report of solitary corals feeding on large gelatinous plankton (ca. 12 cm in diameter) in their natural habitat. Other cn ...