What is Coral ?
Coral lfrom the Namena Marine Reserve, Fiji
Coral is an animal in the Phylum Cinidaria classification that includes jellyfish and anenomies. A single coral is called a polyp, while thousands of polyps makes up a coral colony, and many coral colonies become a reef. Inside the coral is an algae called zooxanthellae with which the coral shares a symbiotic relationship. In this relationship, the zooxanthellae get a place to live, while the coral gets sugars that the zooxanthellae produces through photosynynthesis. The coral has to have the zooxanthellae because the sugars are 95% of its diet, while the other 5% are various kinds of zooplankton.
What Is a Coral Reef ?
For some animals in the ocean, a coral reef may be a place to get a bite to eat, but for 1/4 of all other marine life in the oceans, coral reefs are a home. The base of a coral reef is made of limestone, which is the skeleton of thousands of dead corals and invertebrates that have been compacted together. On top of the limestone base are thousands of living corals that grow in layers to further build the reef.
Where Are Coral Reefs Found ?
Coral reefs are normally found in tropical places where the water temperature is between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit. The most common places to find a reef are in the Southern Pacific, Indian Ocean, and Gulf of Mexico, by places commonly known as, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Hawaii, Mexico and Florida. Depth-wise, coral has to be between 15-80 feet of water due to their symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae which cannot have too much, or too little sun.