Latin name: /
Older: over 4000 years
Appearance: depending on the coral species
Sexual dimorphism: No
Nutrition type: Plankton filter (planktivor)
distribution: worldwide near the equator
natural enemies: Starfish
sexual maturity: /
mating season: all year round
Threatened with extinction: Yes
Further profiles of animals can be found in the Encyclopaedia.
Interesting about the coral
- Corals are one of the sessile, so firmly fixed cnidarians and colonize almost all oceans of the earth. They are found in almost all depths and thrive in different water temperatures.
- Within the genus, a distinction is made between several types of corals depending on their structure. The hard corals mainly colonize tropical seas of the Caribbean, around the Philippines, New Guinea and Indonesia.
- The octocorals counted among the flower-animals comprise over three thousand kinds and are subdivided into soft corals, Gorgonien, leather corals, tube corals, sea-feathers and Seefächer.
- With their partially highly poisonous tentacles, corals filter their food from the water, which consists for the most part of tiny hovering animals and plankton.
- Corals enter into unique symbioses with fish and algae. In the process of photosynthesis, the algae supply the animals with oxygen and nutrients and release metabolic products that give the corals their intense and luminous coloring.
- To be firmly anchored to the seafloor and to protect its soft body parts, rock corals form skeletons of lime, which grow together with the soil on which they have settled. When they die, the offspring continue to grow on their remaining skeletons. In this way, a coral reef is constantly being extended over millennia.
- A broken branch may find some place elsewhere and develop into a new coral. In many decades, the polyps of the corals grow only a few centimeters.
- The octocorals, in contrast to the hard corals, have no skeleton but only small lime needles called sclerites. Only a few exceptions among the octocorals differ in structure from the hard corals. In most species, the calcareous needles disintegrate after the animals have died or settle on the ground where they serve as fillers in the reefs.
- Some corals can, if danger threatens, retreat at lightning speed into their skeletal tubes formed of lime.
- These hollow animals represent an important habitat for many other living things. In the tentacles and between the individual corals fish, shells, crabs and snails settle and find here sufficient hiding places. Coral reefs are among the most biodiverse habitats on Earth. One of the most famous and colorful coral reefs is the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia.
- Corals reproduce by passing their sperm and egg cells to the water where fertilization takes place in certain nights of moonlight, under certain temperature conditions.
- The existence of coral reefs in many oceans has been severely threatened for several decades. Divers decimate the coral population by breaking off parts of the animals. The rising water temperatures as a result of climate change, as well as the intensive shipping traffic, are decisively involved in the destruction of the reefs.