CHIMPANZEES COMING THIS MAY

Oceans

Corals

About

Corals are amazing animals! Their bodies are made of a group of polyps. Shallow corals also may have algae living inside them that make food by photosynthesis. Some corals may grow into large communities called reefs, which also harbor other species such as fish. Reef-building corals are called hard corals because their soft polyps form hard calcium carbonate surfaces. Soft corals remain flexible—sometimes, they’re confused for plants because of the way they look! Although many corals live in shallow, warm waters, some are well adapted to cold or deep ocean habitats.

Corals reproduce by spawning once or twice a year. Fertilized eggs develop into free-swimming larvae, which can land in new places. Coral polyps can also reproduce in place by budding off new polyps! Corals eat food made by the algae that grow with them, or they use their tentacles to sting and then sweep plankton or small animals toward their mouth.

 

Size
Varies by species
Live in
Tropical or cold waters around the world
Food
Algae, plankton, small animals
IUCN Red List Status
Some are threatened with extinction
Coral reef

Conservation

Coral reefs are some of Earth’s most diverse, yet fragile, ecosystems. They depend on consistent ocean conditions to thrive. Climate change, pollution and human interference threaten coral reefs. There are many steps you can take to protect oceans and corals, such as choosing reef-friendly sunscreens and supporting reef restoration projects in coastal areas. If you swim near corals, look but don’t touch them. And if you buy corals for a home aquarium, choose those that have been cultured by people and not collected wild from the ocean.

WHERE ARE THEY AT THE ZOO?