They’re alive!!! Some corals may look like rocks, and others like plants, but they are actually huge colonies of tiny animals called polyps. The coral structure ‘homes’ they create and live in form an intricate environment which in turn provides refuge for many other types of marine life. When we talk about coral reefs, we are talking about not just the structure created by the corals, but all the life that lives in and around them.
There are two main types of corals – hard corals (the ones that look like rocks and are rigid, like Brain Coral), and soft corals (the ones that look like plants and are flexible, like Sea Fans).
The largest coral reef in the world can be found off the coast of Australia. The second largest is found off the coast of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.
2008 is the International Year of the Coral Reef, to raise awareness about the importance of protecting these rich and fragile ecosystems.