Return to the Sea and Sky Home Page Return to Home Page Explore the Seas and Oceans Explore the Universe and Solar System Return to the Sea Menu
Return to the Sea and Sky Home Page
About Sea and Sky What's New at Sea and Sky Frequently Asked Questions
Sea and Sky Awards Sign Our Guest Book Search Sea and Sky Contact Sea and Sky Sea and Sky's Privacy Policy
Return to the Sea Menu
Return to the Sea and Sky Home Page
Return to Reef Life Main Menu  
Explore Sponges & Sea Squirts
Explore Corals & Anemones
Explore Sea Worms
Explore Echinoderms
Explore Crustaceans
Explore Mollusks
Explore Coral Reef Fishes
Explore Unusual Reef Fishes
Explore Sharks & Rays
Explore Marine Mammals
Explore Marine Mammals

Corals & Anemones

Page 1 

Although many people mistake corals and anemones as plants, they are actually animals. They are part of an ancient and simple group of animals known as cnidaria. Jellyfish are also a member of this group. These animals are characterized by a symmetrical body, usually with stinging tentacles, and a central mouth. A coral structure is actually composed of hundreds or thousands of these tiny animals growing together as a colony. These tiny coral polyps are the builders of the coral reef. Their tiny calcium shells have accumulated over thousands of years to form the largest living structures in the world. The majority of the cnidaria live attached in colonies, but a few are free swimming like the jellyfish. Most of these animals use special stinging cells called nematocysts to catch their prey. A few of them, particularly the jellyfishes, are capable of inflicting extremely painful stings on humans. The anemones are well known for establishing a symbiotic relationship with members of the clownfish family. This is a special living arrangement where both animals work together to benefit each other. The anemone provides protection for the clownfish, and the clownfish in turn provides food for the anemone. Below is a listing of some of the more common members of the cnidaria group.

Pineapple Coral (Montastrea cavernosa)
Photo © Aris Entertainment

Pineapple Coral
(Montastrea cavernosa)

The pineapple coral is a species whose small polyps form flat, honeycomb patterns. The colony as a whole forms a large dome-shaped structure. The polyps are usually green or brown, but can also be found in red or orange. They feed at night by extending their delicate, translucent tentacles.

Staghorn Coral (Oxycirrhites typus)
Photo © IMSI

Staghorn Coral
(Oxycirrhites typus)

The staghorn coral is a hard coral species that forms a branching structure resembling the horns of stag deer. The colonies are usually golden-brown with pale tips, but can also range from blue to pink, purple, orange, green, and yellow. This coral is common throughout Caribbean region.

Brain Coral (Diploria strigosa)
Photo © Aris Entertainment

Brain Coral
(Diploria strigosa)

There are several varieties of brain corals found throughout the world. The all get their name from the brain-like ridges that cross their surface. The smooth brain coral grows in a large dome-shaped structure about 4 feet in diameter. It is a common species in the Caribbean from Florida to the Bahamas.

Torch Coral (Caulastrea furcata)
Photo © IMSI

Torch Coral
(Caulastrea furcata)

The torch coral is a beautifully colored species with a candy-like appearance. In fact it is also known as the candycane coral. The polyps are brown with yellow stripes, and their insides are neon green. They are often found in small, tight clusters. This coral is nocturnal. It extends its delicate tentacles to feed at night.

Star Coral (Galaxea fascicularis)
Photo © Aris Entertainment

Star Coral
(Galaxea fascicularis)

The star coral is one of the hard coral species that contains a stone-like calcium skeleton. Small, oval stubs rise from the yellowish-tan central core, each containing a delicate white star-shaped polyp. The Star Coral is commonly found throughout the Caribbean and the West Indies, and usually grows to about 12 inches in height.

Previous Page | Next Page | go to page 1 2 3 4