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41. Heliofungia actiniformis


Unlike many Scleractinian corals, adult polyps of Heliofungia are solitary and free living.

This means that the polyps, which may reach around 21cm across are not actually attached to substrate but are mobile.  The polyp is adorned with a large number of long tubular tentacles, each of which possesses a swollen, alternatively coloured tip. These tentacles catch small morsels of food such as zooplankton or small fish and guide them towards the polyp’s central mouth.

The morphology of this species makes it a suitable home for many reef species such as the popcorn shrimp (Periclimenes kororensis). Unfortunately, it is also attractive to those in the live coral trade, through which it is heavily exploited.

  • Order: Scleractinia
  • Family: Fungiidae
  • Trend: unknown
  • Depth Range (m): 1 - 25

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 3.81 (?)
ED Score: 10.3 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


This species is found in the central Indo-Pacific, northwest, north and eastern Australia, south Japan and South China Sea, oceanic West Pacific.

Habitat and Ecology

This coral is a single, free-living polyp, typically found on reef flats and gentle reef slopes down to 25m. As with many mushroom corals they reproduce asexually by budding to form a new polyp.

Other free living corals in the family have been shown to relocate as a response to contact with toxic sponges. Such a flight response is important in solitary corals as these are more likely to come into contact with competing organisms. It is hypothesized that polyp inflation is the mechanism through which motile corals travel.

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Conservation Actions

For each key category of conservation action, we calculated a conservation attention score based on expert information. In this graph, a higher score means the action is being carried out more intensively over more of the species range. The colour shows how important each action is considered to be for the conservation of this species.

Engaging stakeholders
Addressing threats
Status of knowledge
Management plan
Capacity building
Behaviour change
Awareness raising
  Score: 100 means the activity occurs at high level across more than 75% of the species range
Very Low

Overall Conservation Attention

We combined all of the expert information on conservation actions to calculate an overall conservation attention score for this species. Please help us to reach our goal of establishing dedicated conservation attention at “High” levels for all EDGE species.

Very Low Low Medium High

More information

Recent studies have grouped all possible conservation activities for any species into nine key categories (Washington et. al 2015). For each action, we asked experts for each species to assess the extent to which that action is being carried out and how much of the species’ range that action occurs in. For each action we used these two pieces of information to calculate the conservation attention score per action. A score of 100 means that the action is being carried out to a high level across at least 75% of the species range. We then combined the scores for all actions into an overall conservation attention score for the species. The experts also judged how important each category was to the conservation of that particular species.

Vision (30-50 years)

The mushroom coral is protected and conserved as a flagship species in the Philippines in healthy coral reefs through effective and collaborative management while providing social, economic and ecological benefits to the present and future generations.

Goal (5-10 years)

To assess the current status of the mushroom coral throughout its range, ensure its protection and conserve its habitat.


Assess the status in each marine biogeographic zone Critical
Reduce the cause of habitat degradation Critical
Mushroom coral populations are protected in effectively managed network of marine protected areas High
Existing legislation effectively enforced including coral poaching at the local and national levels High
National action plan for mushroom coral produced and supported at all levels High
Coordinated and sustained conservation strategy High
Southeast Asia regional coordination in place and integrated in the Coral Triangle Initiative National Plan of Action for each country Medium
Mushroom corals recognized as flagship species in the Philippines and as a keystone species in coral reefs at the local and national levels Medium

Ditto dela Rosa

  • Project name: Conserving mushroom corals in Polillo Islands
  • Project site: Polillo Islands, Philippines
  • Active: 2011 - 2013
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Choo Poh Leem

  • Project name: Marine Spatial Planning for EDGE coral species in Semporna, Sabah
  • Project site: Semporna Priority Conservation Area (PCA), Malaysia
  • Active: 2016 - ongoing
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