Although most people know that coral reefs are found throughout the world in tropical oceans, many do not realize that these reefs are actually living animal colonies, and that they are very important in the tropical ocean ecosystem. The coral reef is an integral part of the cycle of life in the tropical seas, and are home to thousands of species of fish and invertebrates.
The reef is made up of small colonial animals, called coral polyps. Coral polyps live on plankton and also on sunlight, utilizing symbiotic algae in their skin tissue to augment their diet. This makes reef growth possible in the nutrient-poor tropical ocean water. The reef then provides nesting areas and hiding spots for numerous species of small fish and invertebrates. These in turn attract larger animals to the reef in search of food. Therefore, a coral reef can turn an otherwise barren patch of sand into a bustling marine metropolis. All of this is made possible by the tiny coral polyps, most no larger than a single pearl.
Join Oceanic Research Group on a journey to the coral reefs of the Pacific and Caribbean to learn how coral polyps survive, reproduce and build the largest structures on Earth!
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Tiny colonial animals called coral polyps work together
to produce reefs, the largest living structures on Earth.