We have talked about coral at the University before, but we thought it would be good to have a refresher about these amazing tiny animals.
Coral Fun Facts:
- Each animal is attached to the next by a hard exoskeleton.
- The large coral colonies are fixed to one spot. The individual animals can pull their tentacles into their exoskeleton for protection.
- They have tentacles with stinging cells that help them catch their prey!
- Coral are related to jellies and anemones.
- Coral share their homes with zooxanthella (zō′ə-zăn-thĕl′ə), a type of algae. The zooxanthella and coral polyp help each other survive.
- The coral provide a home for the zooxanthella and the zooxanthella provide oxygen and nutrients for the coral.
- The zooxanthella also give the corals their colors!
- Because the zooxanthella need sun to make energy (photosynthesis), coral reefs are located in shallow waters.
- As coral grow, they help build shelter for many kinds of animals in the reef. Those calcium carbonate bodies build the reef.
- Some fish, like parrotfish eat coral. The fish’s poop then becomes sand. Much of the sand in the Caribbean is parrotfish poop!
- You can often see new growth on a coral by seeing the white tips!
Now that we all know more about corals! We will get our diving equipment ready for exploring these amazing habitats!