Tropical Oceans

More About Coral Reefs

Where are coral reefs found?
Coral Reef Coral reefs are found only in shallow, warm water. The water temperature is usually constant year round. The reef is made up of thousands of corals. When a coral dies, it leaves its skeleton of calcium carbonate behind. Young corals attach themselves to the old skeleton and the cycle starts again. Each new generation is built upon the remains of the previous generation

Is the coral an animal?
PolypThe actual animal that makes up the physical coral is called a polyp. It is column shaped and attaches itself to the floor of the reef. The top end extends into the water and is free to move about. Thousands of individual polyps form a colony, which in turn forms a reef.

What makes the reef hard?
Each individual polyp is responsible for each bump in the reef. Each polyp creates its own skeleton, usually made up of calcium carbonate (chalk), which it lives in. Polyps are active at night. During the daytime, they retreat into their skeleton, so divers usually only see their skeletons.

Why do so many fish live near coral reefs?
Fish in Coral ReefBecause of warm water and abundant food supply, coral reef communities are bustling with life. Reefs with their bush like shape offer many nooks and crannies for fish to hide in. Small fish can hide from big predators inside a coral reef. Because of this, many small tropical fish are found in coral reefs.

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