species: Porites spp (massive) in taxonomy (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Porites spp (massive)

©Anne Hoggett: Microatolls of massive Porites spp at low tide on the reef flat at Eyrie Reef near Lizard Island.

©Andy Lewis: A brown colony of one of the massive Porites spp at the reef front, Lizard Island

©Andy Lewis: A macro image of Porites sp(p). massive showing the typical structure of corallites
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Cnidaria
Class Hexacorallia
Order Scleractinia
Family Poritidae
Genus Porites
Species Porites spp (massive)



Distinguishing features

A complex of three species (Porites australiensis, Porites lobata, and Porites lutea) that form large massive colonies covered in irregular lumps. These species are very hard to distinguish underwater, and can only be separated on internal characteristics of the septa inside the small polyps. Corallites are small and embedded. Colour is typically pale brown, although purple-blue, pink, and grey colonies are also found.


  • Up to 800 cm (Diameter)



Distribution and habitat preferences

All habitats.

Found in all habitats around Lizard Island.


Porites spp (massive) are one of the most common corals at Lizard Island, and are major reef framework building species. They can form large colonies over 8m diameter when growing in deeper water, however they also survive in the shallow intertidal reef flats. They are resistant to feeding by Crown of Thorns Starfish and have survived local outbreaks in 1993-1998 and 2010-2015 with little loss. Several researchers have examined the growth records in these corals, as due to their large size and longevity, they retain good records of past environmental conditions. This species is a gonochoric broadcast spawner.

Web resources


  • Baird, A.H., J.R. Guest and B.L. Willis (2009). Systematic and biogeographical patterns in the reproductive biology of scleractinian corals, Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 40: 551-571.
  • Barnes, D.J. and J.M. Lough (2000). Environmental controls on growth of the massive coral Porites, Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 245: 225-243.
  • Bonaldo, R.M. (2011). The ecosystem role of parrotfishes on coral reefs, PhD thesis, James Cook University. LIRS catalog number 1412.
  • View all references