Corals are colorful sea creatures that remain rooted to a spot on the sea floor.
Many different polyps, or smaller organisms, compose one large coral. The
smaller organisms are actually clones of eachother (they have the same DNA)
and work together to function as one larger organism.
They have a row of tentacles around their mouth which have
nematocytes that have the ability to sting and are used to capture prey.
Corals have a symbiotic relationship with algae.
The coral gives the algae protection and components to
allow them to undergo a process called photosynthesis.
The algae, in return, give the coral oxygen and other
necessary compounds and help remove wastes.
The algae also gives the coral their color.
Corals and other organisms work together to make impressive coral reefs.
Coral has many uses for humans, ancient reefs on land are often mined
for limestone, jewelers use pure red coral or "fire coral" as jewelry,
but the main use of coral is for tourism. They are, however, becomeing
damaged because of human activity. Pollution,certain fishing practices,
and obtaining them for our own purposes are just some of the threats to
coral reefs. Coral bleaching, where corals loose their color, is said to
be associated with global warming. Coral diseases have also become a frequent
problem in the last few years. Scientists are working on huge
restoration projects and are trying to find ways to moniter the reefs.
They're also hard at work trying to find cures for all the various coral diseases.