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What is a coral?

Although coral is often mistaken for a rock or a plant, it is actually composed of tiny, fragile animals called coral polyps. When people say coral, they are referring to these little animals and the skeletons they leave behind after they die.

Although there are hundreds of different species of corals, they are generally classified as either hard coral or soft coral.

Hard corals grow in colonies and are the architects of coral reefs. Including such species as brain coral and elkhorn coral, hard coral skeletons are made out of calcium carbonate (also known as limestone), a hard substance that eventually becomes rock. Hard corals are hermatypes, or reef-building corals, and need tiny algae called zooxanthellae (pronounced zo-zan-THEL-ee) to survive. Generally, when we talk about coral, we are referring to hard corals.

Soft corals, such as sea fingers and sea whips, are soft and bendable and often resemble plants or trees. These corals do not have stony skeletons, but instead grow wood like cores for support and fleshy rinds for protection. They are referred to as ahermatypes, or non-reef building corals, and they do not always have zooxanthellae. Soft corals are found in both tropical seas and in cool, dark regions. Directly quoted from:  

Directly quoted from Coral Reef Alliance:

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Also in this section:

The importance of a coral reef ecosystem
What is a coral?
Elements that influence a coral reef ecosystem
Threats to coral reef
Coral reef and global warming
Why do we try to protect the coral reef?
Indigenous knowledge of the marine ecosystem on Balobaloang

Destructive fishing practices
Dynamite fishing
Cyanide Fishing
Trawl
Overfishing
Knowledge and practice of sustainable fishing on Balobaloang

Academic works and research on Balobaloang

Global fish trade and the environment

 

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