What is coral?

Limestone Skeleton

Coral is hard, rocky material formed in the sea from the limestone skeletons of many tiny sea creatures called coral polyps (pronounced PO Lips).

A coral polyp builds its limestone skeleton around its soft body.  The limestone is made from chemicals present in sea water.

Only the polyp’s mouth and tentacles reach out of the protective skeleton to feed upon the tiny organisms floating in the sea.

Coral polyps spent their lives anchored in one place.  Many polyps living together in a colony form a single piece of coral.

There are many kinds of coral.  The shape of a coral structure depends on the kind of polyps that form it.  Formations may look like branching trees, large domes, or even like tiny organ pipes.

Over the years coral structures become larger and larger as new generations of polyps grow on coral left by dead polyps.

Sometimes coral masses build till they rise above the water to form coral islands.  – Dick Rogers



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