With their hardened surfaces, corals are sometimes mistaken as being rocks. And, because they are attached, “taking root” to the seafloor, they are often mistaken for plants. However, unlike rocks, corals are alive. And unlike plants, corals do not make their own food. Corals are in fact animals.
The branch or mound that we often call “a coral” is actually made up of thousands of tiny animals called polyps. A coral polyp is an invertebrate that can be no bigger than a pinhead to up to a foot in diameter. Each polyp has a saclike body and a mouth that is encircled by stinging tentacles. The polyp uses calcium carbonate (limestone) from seawater to build a hard, cup-shaped skeleton. This skeleton protects the soft, delicate body of the polyp.
Learn more about Corals
This short animated film tells the story of coral reefs with humor and admiration for these wondrous ecosystems. Learn about the unique biology of coral reefs and their importance to people as well as the serious threats that they face due to overfishing, pollution, climate change. The film also explores what individuals can do to help save coral reefs, including supporting sustainable seafood and tourism providers, reducing your CO2 footprint, and promoting coral reef conservation.