What is Coral?

Types of corals.

Types of corals.

Mariah Vega , Contributor

If you ask somebody what the first thing they think of when you say the ocean they most likely will say fish, shark, maybe even water. But when I think of the ocean I think of coral. Coral comes in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. If you want to learn more, keep reading!


Many people think that coral is a plant, but it actually is an animal. It is specifically made up of thousands of tiny creatures called coral polyps.  Polyps look like little tubes with a mouth on top. The mouth is lined with tiny stinging tentacles. They are about one to ten millimeters wide, but depending on their size they might eat different things. For example, bigger polyps may eat small fish while smaller ones eat types of plankton.  


Coral comes in many different colors. The most common colors are light green and golden brown. There’s about 6,000 different types of coral. They are also in 2 categories: soft and hard corals. Hard coral is when its skeleton is on the outside of the coral reef. One common hard coral is called the Boulder Star. It eats zooplankton and they are considered an endangered species. A common soft coral is a mushroom coral. Mushroom coral eat plant cells called zooxanthellae.


Also, Boulder star corals are not the only coral that is endangered. There are many other ones as well. According to EPA coral is endangered because “Increased ocean temperatures and changing ocean chemistry are the greatest global threats to coral reef ecosystems. These threats are caused by warmer atmospheric temperatures and increasing levels of carbon dioxide in seawater.” 


While I have hopefully taught you something, this is not all. I have only shown you a little bit of information about coral. If you would like to know more you can read this. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03629-7 I hope you can respect our ocean and protect our animals.