Monday, October 25, 2010

Coral Legacy

Coral in Peril

" There has long been a belief that the sea, at least, was inviolate, beyond man's ability to change and to despoil. But this belief, unfortunately, has proved to be naive. "
--Rachel Carson

How much do you know about coral?

Try a Worldwatch quiz or Ocean world - I like this one

What is coral? When you see pictures in National Geographic of huge rock like things in the ocean with fish swimming all around, is that coral? Well, sort of. That is a coral reef.

Take a Live FISH EYE VIEW.... look for yourself...

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Coral is an animal that belongs to the phylum cnidaria. A phylum is a group that scientists place animals in which share certain characteristics. Cnidarians are radially symmetric, which means that they are the same all the way around, 360 degrees! They are built like sacs with a hole in one end that is surrounde

d by stinging tentacles. Jellyfish are cnidaria. Now, you are probably thinking, jellyfish don't look anything like what I thought coral was! That's because the most common pictures of coral are colonies called reefs.

During the mating season coral polyp release eggs and sperm into the water (picture below) and when an egg and a sperm meet they form a larva known as a planula.

Mountainous star coral (Montastraea faveolata) in the process of releasingboth eggs and sperm.

Click here for a larger view!

coral mating

The baby coral looks like a little tiny jellyfish and it floats around in the water until it finds a hard place to attach to, usually a coral reef. Then it lands and starts to build itself a shell. It builds it by combining carbon dioxide (CO2) and calcium (Ca) in the water to make calcium carbonate (CaCO3) also known as limestone. This shell is shaped like a round vase and the coral polyp lives inside.

bright yellow coral polyp

Coral Polyp
(Photo courtesy Jeffrey N. Jeffords)

Coral polyps are primarily nocturnal. At night a coral polyp will stick its tentacles out of its vase and let the tentacles wave in the current. Then, when plankton float by, the coral polyp stings them with its tentacles and brings the plankton inside its shell to have for lunch.

A coral reef is about a million of these individual coral polyp shells all stuck one on top of the other. When coral polyps die, new ones land and grow right on top of the old empty shells. There are over 500 different species of coral. Some look like brains and some like fans and some like the antlers of deer, but they are all made up of tiny coral polyps.

Organisms other than coral can form reefs. A reef is simply a structure in the shallow parts of the ocean that serves as a home to animals and plants. Many sunken ships have become reefs and humans even create artificial reefs to replace the coral reefs that we have destroyed. Some artificial reefs are specially constructed for the purpose, but others are made of tires linked together, old appliances linked together and even discarded military equipment like tanks and helicopters.

You can dive to greater depths in this adventure in the Coral Realm

Coral Reefs are often called : The Rainforests of the Sea ?

Can you explain what might make people say this? (Bonus points available)

The comment box is open


  1. Hey mr.v i was in 8th grade and you told me that the progress log was due wed. was that only for physical science because i have you for first period on marine so i dont know if its due tom or wed? Thanks

  2. Okay thank you!!!!! :)

  3. Hey mr.v thanks for the information for Coral reef. It helps what is on are progress log for Define and Describe coral. Thank you for the help!!!!
    Sabrina red

  4. Sabrina, you are welcome...I am always glad to hear that the blog helps. (tell your friends, too.)

    If you ever have any ideas what you might like to have on the blog... or want to contribute let me know.

    Put a point(1) in the bonus box!

  5. oh i like how the answers can be right there! But something that is intresting is that for marine were learning coral and i am reading about Rachel Carson and she is on there for marine tooo!!!!! So im like thats weird he put something for science and marine! but i need some more stuff about physical science examples because i am sometimes confused with the graphing and ive only found finding the average and things like that.

    Sabrina/yellow and Red

  6. Show me your data table and your IV DV ,

    The graphing is simple once you have those two things!!!

  7. ya i have them but ill show you it tom.

  8. I took both of the quizes and on the first one I got a 10/10 and on the second one I got a 9/9

  9. WOW ! Dawson, really? SUPERB! Put two(2) in the bonus box!!!

  10. Dear mr.V,
    I took the ocean world quiz and got a 9/9 on it!

    Chris orange

  11. Wow Mr. V. I have commented in almost every comment box now. I'm not even in marine science yet and this stuff I kind of know already. I took both quizzes and aced them and the Worldwide 1 was easy. Marine science classes at our school are just really cool. Mr. Vukelich's was fun but we hardly ever went outside 'cause it was always cold and there were no fish. Well anyways i saw on th enews a thing that coral was found dead around where the bp oil spill was. I bet many marine scientists and oceanographers all around the world wanna kill bp right now.


  12. Tyler I saw the same article.. I will be posting it in the blog. ( Yeah there are a LOT of VERY upset people.. and they have a right to be. We will be studying about the effects of Oil pollution in Marine class.


  13. The reason Coral reefs are called "The Rainforests of the sea" is because either they face the same destruction as a land rainforest would, and is vital for the survival of life on this planet.
    -Justin, Blue
    PS can anyone help with what I should say for RERUN FD?

  14. What do you need for your final draft? Just follow your rough draft, the guidelines and the rubric...
    do you have a SPECIFIC question?

  15. Just what I should do for U & N of RERUN.
    Justin, Blue

  16. i think that coral reefs are called the rain forest of the sea because like rain forests coral reefs hold a percent of the oceans species and population just like the rain forest

    tavish/marine science/red

  17. Tavish, well stated.

    Put a point(1) in the bonus box