In elkhorn coral, eggs and sperm are released into the water column and fertilization occurs near the surface. After about 78 hours, larvae of planula develop cilia, giving them the appearance of “fuzzy balls.” Motility is observed at this stage. Larvae remain in surface waters during their early development aided by high lipid content. The coral larvae live in the plankton for 3 to 5 days until finding a suitable area to settle. Few larvae actually survive. Those that do, metamorphose into the polyp stage. These polyps then contribute to the development of a new colony.
Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis ; colonial growth