I recently heard from my sister that my niece is able to identify brain coral when she sees it in pictures. I know we spend a lot of time talking about things in the ocean, but it always impresses me when she can name specific animal species like that. This conversation also made me realize how few coral species I can identify by sight. Since coral can be tricky to identify – especially from a distance, this section focuses on broader categories or groupings of coral. Learning to identify which group a coral belongs to should make it easier to remember it’s specific features so we can look it up later on. This first section on coral groups is about stony coral.
Learn About Stony Coral
Stony coral (sometimes called hard coral) are the basic building blocks of tropical coral reefs. The polyps in a stony coral colony secrete a skeleton made of calcium carbonate that provides protection for their soft bodies.
This skeleton is also the foundation for a coral reef. Colonies increase in size by asexual budding of additional polyps – this process is a little bit like how a tree grows and can put out new leaves and branches. As the coral grows new buds, each successive generation grows over the previous one.
Over time, this process creates huge, beautiful structures that provide shelter and homes for all kinds of marine animals.