How Does Coral Grow?
Beneath the surface of the sea lie coral formations of many shapes and colors. The formations may look like branching trees tinted green or lavender, lacy sea fans, or even like tiny organ pipes. Coral is formed by millions of tiny sea animals called “coral polyps.”
Coral polyps look much like little flowers. Different types of coral grow into different shapes. Some look like mushrooms, some trees, fans, honeycombs, flowers, and even brains.
They wave food into their mouths with a circle of tiny tentacles. Young coral polyps attach themselves to older ones and build limy, cup-like skeletons around their soft bodies. When the polyps die, their hard skeletons remain as part of the growing coral formations.
Besides being beautiful, a tourist attraction, and an important part of planet Earth, coral reefs have a positive impact on many people throughout the world. This includes food from fishing, protection of coastlines from erosion, and even medical discoveries such as medicines for cancer.
how does coral grow