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About Coral: Coral reefs are one of the most complex and colorful tropical ecosystems. Coral rivals rain forests in their richness of life. The gigantic, colorful, and intricate coral structures are home to some of the most fascinating plants and animals in the world. Their extraordinary beauty enchants visitors and their productivity provides an abundance of resources for local communities and the world.







A coral reef is composed of thin plates or layers of calcium carbonate secreted over thousands of years by billions of tiny soft bodied animals called coral polyps. It takes years for some corals to grow an inch and they range in size from a pinhead to a foot in length. Each polyp excretes a exo-skeleton and lives in a symbiotic relationship with a host algae; this gives the coral its color. The algae use photosynthesis which results in giving off oxygen as a by-product that is used by the polyp. Coral is found in shallow ocean water because the algae need sunlight and the polyp needs the algae. Millions of polyps grow on top of the limestone remains of former colonies to create the massive reefs.