As in all corals, the Staghorn Coral reproduces both sexually and asexually. The very first stage of reproduction is a sexually-caused stage of reef-building. This occurs when existing polyps expel millions of spermatoza into the water. Some of these gametes are drawn into other polyps that are nearby; the eggs that are produced there are then fertilized and larva develop and float away to produce new polyps. The larva, called planula, are extremely small and bulb-shaped. They are constantly changing shape as they swim/drift (Sisson 1973). They have a mouth at the upper end, which is the wider end with cilia like hairs all over them that are constantly beating and help support them to the surface. The planula that survive predators while floating through the water settle on a suitable hard surface in warm water and attach themselves by spreading out into a disk (Sisson 1973). Once they land here, they begin to secrete a white starlike outer skeleton which permanently cements it to a spot and develop tentacles and grow into mature polyps. Once the first skeletons are built, the founders, or the sexually produced polyps, multiply by asexual methods. Acropora grow branches, which are also known as buds, that become the daughter polyps, which then bud more daughters (McGregor 1974).
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