[ The Voyage Of The Beagle : ]

The Voyage Of The Beagle
We always wonder to which category or content a coral polyp really belongs to – the Animal kingdom or the Plant kingdom? It is more similar to a tubular sac form of animal with a centred mouth. Their mouth part is surrounded by finger-like structures usually referred to as the tentacles. These either form the defence system of the coral polyp and is also used for hunting their food as these polyps are immovable and are often attached to a solid thing under the ocean.

Corals are excellent designers and even structure up a huge reef skeletal that is made of calcium carbonate and these protect the polyp. So, during the hours of daylight, when the polyps are not feeding the tentacles will be withdrawn back into the skeletal cup. But at night, they extend their tentacles back to capture food.

How these corals put up their changing colours?

The corals have a habit of wearing vibrant colours. Microscopic algae are found inside the tissues of these polyps that does this magic and also form the source of food and oxygen for the coral polyps that in turn offers the protection and light needed to prepare food.

About the coral shapes

There exists a different variety of shapes and can be divided to four main types

  • The branched one: The Staghorn coral is an example to this
  • The foliaceous one like the lettuce leaf coral
  • Massive type: Brain coral is an example
  • The Solitary one like the Mushroom corals

Reproduction process in corals

Mostly there are two main types of reproduction occurring in corals

  • Sexual reproduction: This involves the joining of male and the female eggs produced during the process of mass spawning.
  • Asexual type: Budding is a simple process carried out in this type. A portion of the parent polyp detaches off to form a single individual.

The basic requirements for the coral growth include

  • A warm environment of 18 to 35 degree is a must factor.
  • They require water movements to remove sands and other waste sediments along with bringing the fresh stream of food and supply. This also helps in maintaining the same salt content.
  • Sunlight is an essential factor which is processed by algae for photosynthesis.
  • A firm substrate medium is another need for attaching themselves for growing purpose.
  • Clean and salty water is yet another unavoidable criterion that contributes to the coral growth. Dirty water can slow down the growth by limiting the supply of food and oxygen


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