what is coral

corals, General

What exactly is coral?

Corals help build coral reefs. They do this by fixing calcium in the skeleton, which creates coral reefs. This creates a habitat where coral, fish, algae and thousands of other species live together in a complex ecosystem. These coral reefs provide food and habitat for about 25 percent of the world’s fish.

There are about six thousand species of coral. Most species live in warm shallow waters near the coast. Some species even grow on the dark, cold seabed of the open ocean.

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Although coral looks like a colorful plant, it is actually an animal. Corals are known as individual animals that together form a colony. When you see a coral, you are actually seeing individual animals that live and grow while connected to each other. They also often depend on each other for survival. The individual animals that make up a colony are called coral polyps. The polyps of stony corals use ions contained in seawater to build a skeleton to live on. A coral polyp has the shape of a cylinder. The animal has a mouth that is surrounded by tentacles. The tentacles collect food and can even sting other corals or animals that threaten the coral. The coral polyps catch food with their tentacles. After the food is digested, the waste products from the coral polyp also come out through the mouth.

The bodies of the coral polyps are translucent. The colors characteristic of many corals are different types of algae that grow in the tissue of the coral polyp. These algae have different functions for the coral. First, the algae process the waste from the coral. The algae also use the waste products for photosynthesis, thereby creating food for the coral. By-products of photosynthesis include oxygen and carbohydrates that serve as food for the coral. This mutually beneficial relationship between coral and algae is called symbiosis.

what is coral

The bodies of the coral polyps are translucent. The colors characteristic of many corals are different types of algae that grow in the tissue of the coral polyp. These algae have different functions for the coral. First, the algae process the waste from the coral. The algae also use the waste products for photosynthesis, thereby creating food for the coral. By-products of photosynthesis include oxygen and carbohydrates that serve as food for the coral. This mutually beneficial relationship between coral and algae is called symbiosis.

Coral reefs not only provide an important habitat for marine animals and plants, but they are also important to humans. Millions of people around the world depend for their survival on fish caught in and around coral reefs. These coral reefs are also a draw for tourists. Furthermore, these coral reefs also protect us from storms, serving as a barrier that reduces the impact of waves on the coast.

These benefits make the protection of coral reefs a high priority for many conservationists. Further research and protection of coral reefs is important for us and nature. The world has already lost nearly 20 percent of its coral reefs. More and more reefs are under threat today. Pollution and rising sea temperatures are two major causes of coral reef loss. This can have major consequences for humans as well as for the animals and plants in the sea. Both pollution and water warming can cause corals to turn pale. This is a process by which corals expel their symbiotic algae causing them to turn pale. The absence of the algae means that the coral has less food and eventually dies. It is therefore important that we take good care of and protect our coral reefs.

what is coral

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