What is coral?

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A coral is a type of an animal that lives underwater. It belongs to the family of phylum cnidaria, a group used by scientists to refer to animals that share the same characteristics. Because of its colorful nature, it is often mistaken as a plant. It comes in a wide array of species and is now the main subject of marine protection around the globe.

Corals are characterized by their polyps and skeletons made of calcium carbonate. They are also referred to as coral reefs. Some are very small and can only be found in shallow waters. However, some huge corals may even be more colorful and magical deep in the ocean.

Every coral contains the same body plan. The coral polyp is like a sack with a stomach. It has a mouth that is surrounded by retractable tentacles, which functions as their asset to catch food. The corallite is the second body plan which is made of calcium carbonate shell that protects its most sensitive part, the polyp. Corals mate in a very unique way. During such season, the coral polyp releases egg and sperm into the water. Once they meet, they form a larva called planula.

Corals are also considered as underwater treasures. They serve as habitat for small fishes and even food for larger animals in the sea. Because of global warming, corals are feared to be gone in the next couple of decades. One bad effect of global warming that has also become a trending issue among marine biologists is coral bleaching. This happens when the water is too warm for the corals to sustain. As a result it expels algae causing the corals to entirely turn white. Corals that have been bleached are not totally dead, but their lives can be totally imperiled.

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