Posts Tagged ‘Algae’
Coral reefs are complex structures that depend on a variety of marine creatures. Out of the creatures that contribute to a reef’s growth, the most important are the Scleractinian corals, tiny animals that are the driving force behind most of the coral’s solid structure. Each individual creature is referred to as a polyp and has a hard shell made of calcium carbonate, which is formed from the substances extracted from the ocean. Another kind of coral, commonly known as fire coral, contribute to the reefs of the Caribbean Sea. Matured hard coral are part of groups called colonies, where the most superficial layers are made of living polyps, with each generation building on the remains of ancestors. Each polyp is genetically identical, and often grow in larger groups sometimes comprised of different species.
Plants called coralline, or calcareous algae, also contribute to the growth of coral reefs. Like the coral, they use calcium carbonate in their reef building processes. This algae grows among the coral colonies and assists in solidifying the structure.
Aside from the algae and the coral, there are other creatures, such as sponges, octocorals, and other algae that stick to the coral’s surface. All these creatures living together add another level of structural and biological complexity that makes any coral reef an exciting ecological system.