Corals. They look like plants, but are in fact tiny invertebrates (spineless animals) belonging to the group of animals called Cnidaria. This makes them relatives of anemones and sea jellies.
Also called the forests of the sea, they help to create reefs that house some of the greatest biodiversity on earth. So much so that even though coral reefs cover less than 1% of the ocean floor, they support about 25% of all marine life.
Here are more facts about these amazing creatures:
Reproduces asexually or sexually
Corals such as the sun coral have the amazing ability to reproduce asexually (by fragmentation where an entire colony branches off to form a new colony). Whereas corals like the brain coral reproduce sexually (where eggs are fertilised by sperms).
Capture vs photosynthesis
Being carnivores, corals feed on plankton, krill and small fish. But many corals also contain photosynthetic algae that live in their tissues. These algae produce oxygen, remove wastes, and supply the organic products of photosynthesis that corals need to thrive.
Speaking of algae, do you know that algae is also responsible for the corals’ mindboggling array of colours? Without them, corals would appear white.
Here at S.E.A. Aquarium, we have a number of coral displays which include numerous reef building stony corals and a colourful collection of soft corals. One of the most beautiful corals here is the Sun Coral which, surprisingly, do not require light to grow. You can read about our aquarist’s experience of caring for them here
Here’s a video of our popular Hard Coral habitat:
Come check out these magnificent corals at the aquarium soon!