Fire Coral Redux

Our readers ask us a lot of questions about diving, about locations we have visited, and about marine life. Fire Coral is among the topics asked about most frequently. People want to know where it is, what it looks like, and what to do if they are stung by Fire Coral.

Back in late 2007, we posted two articles about Fire Coral, along with some photos of examples of the kinds of Fire Corals most commonly encountered by divers and snorkelers in the Caribbean Sea and the Red Sea. Although those articles receive a lot of traffic from search engines, we decided to post the links to both for the benefit of our newer readers who might not have known about them.

Fire Coral: Look, but do not touch gives an overview of Fire Coral, and how its nematocysts work to sting whoever brushes up against them. The article includes a photo of Millepora alcicornis, a Caribbean species of Fire Coral, and a macro photo that shows the dactylozooids, the tiny hair-like structures that contain the Fire Coral's stinging nematocysts.

Fire coral: Another view displays a wide-angle image of Millepora dichotoma, the Fire Coral species encountered most frequently in the Red Sea.

For those of you who prefer to listen rather than read, here is a video about Fire Coral, produced and narrated by Don Stark of

If the video does not play or display properly above, click here to view it on YouTube.


  1. Very interesting information as usual. :-)

  2. Thanks. Hope the info helps someone avoid getting stung by fire coral.


  3. I have been stung by fire coral before. That was the worst pain I had felt in my life. We were snorkling in Key West on our honeymoon 12 years ago and stopped to look at a reef that was just under the surface of the water. When my husband turned, he accidently kicked me into the reef into a pacth of the fire coral. I couldnt see what had happened, but this intense pain shot up my knee and I honestly thought a shark had taken my leg off just right below. When I turned to look and saw my leg was still attached, I managed to swim back the football field length to the boat. Watching them put the fresh water on it was very cool and extreamly painful at the same time. Ah, memories. Took me about 4 days to recover to the point I could stand to have something cover it. On the 5th day, the swelling went down and my leg looked normal save the scratch.

  4. Hello Kennas - The experience you describe is quite typical for victims of fire coral stings. What a horrible thing to have happen on your honeymoon, especially.



We welcome your comments and invite your questions. Dialogue is a good thing!

Bobbie & Jerry