The Foundation of the Reef Ecosystem

Corals are the foundation of the reef. Corals are living animals. They build a foundation of hard calcium rock that is the coral reef. Other animals, like sponges, live on the reef. Many fishes eat corals, live in the crevices of the coral reef, sleep under the ledges of the reef, and depend on the healthy reef for their survival. Corals live in warm oceans.

A coral colony is made up of thousands of individual animals called coral polyps (say, "PAH-lips").


Our Objectives: to see different corals in their habitat,
to understand that corals are animals,
to learn how corals make life on the reef possible,
and to learn about the threats to corals.


Objective 1: We will see Different Corals in their Habitat throughout this website.

  Brain Coral on the Mature Reef
  Brain Coral Brain Coral
  Young Coral Reef is 50 years old
  Young Reef Young Reef

Objective 2: Understand that Corals are Animals.

  Brain Coral Closeup Photo
  Brain Coral Closeup Brain Coral Closeup

Brain Coral Macro Photo
  Brain Coral Ultra Closeup Brain Coral Ultra-Closeup

Star Coral Macro at Night
  Star Coral Macro at Night Star Coral Macro at Night
  Lettuce Coral Macro at Night
  Lettuce Coral Closeup Lettuce Coral Ultra-Closeup at Night

Sea Whip Coral Polyps
  Sea Whip Coral with Polyps Feeding Sea Whip Coral Ultra Closeups at night show Polyps Feeding!

Star Coral Macro by Day
  Star Coral Macro by Day Star Coral Macro by Day

Objective 3: Understand that Corals make Life Possible on the Tropical Reef.

  Corals Equal Shelter and Protection
  Corals are Habitat
  Corals are Shelter

Corals also Shelter Other Invertebrates
  Christmas-Tree Worm
  Christmas-Tree Worm with Healthy Star Coral

Objective 4: Understand that Coral Reefs are Fragile and Easily Threatened.

  Invertebrates may Attack Corals
  Orange Icing Sponge on Threatened Star Coral
  Sponges may Overwhelm Corals
  Purple Tube Sponges on Dead Coralhead
  Endangered Turtles Eat Sponges
  Giant Loggerhead Turtle
  Urchins Eat Algae
  Long-Spined Sea Urchins are Essential Algae Eaters
  Crabs Eat Algae
  Giant Stone Crab feasts on algae at night
  Parrotfishes Eat Algae and Coral Polyps
  Stoplight Parrotfish scrapes algae from corals, also produces sand

CONCLUSION: Fragile Coral Reefs need Our Stewardship,
and Knowledge will make the Difference.

  Gorgonian Sea Rod
  Beautiful Sea Rod in Ocean Current

More Photos of Corals
Brain Coral
Cayman Brac Coral Head includes Star Corals and Sponges
Deep-Water Sea Fan
Individual Coral Polyps
A Mountainous Coral Head
Soft Coral gives refuge to a Trumpetfish
Star Coral provides shelter for a Christmas-Tree Worm


Visit the ReefNews Photo Gallery

Back to the ReefNews Home Page

Copyright © 1998-2002, ReefNews, Inc.
95 Obsidian Loop
Los Alamos, NM 87544

ReefNews ® is a registered trademark of ReefNews, Inc.
Questions, Comments? Write to!