Topics to be Covered… What is coral? How is coral classified? Coral biology Coral identification Coral conservation
What is reef coral? Animal, plant, or rock? Animals need to get food Plants make their own food Rocks don’t need food
Corals belong to the phylum Cnidaria Medusa or polyp body forms as adults Stinging cells called nematocysts Only one body cavity with a single opening
Examples of Cnidarians Sea AnemonesJellyfish are cnidarians too! Coral
Is it an animal? Reef coral is made of many small individual animals called polyps.
What’s a polyp? The basic body form of a coral animal Structure like a sac with two walls of cells The open end bears the mouth, which is surrounded by tentacles mouth/anus tentacle body stalk epidermis mesoglea gastrodermis gastrovascular cavity
Coral as Predators Coral must eat - it’s a consumer! Nematocysts are used to sting, catch, and kill prey
Is it a plant? Polyps have symbiotic algae, called zooxanthellae living in their cells Zooxanthellae make food for the polyp through photosynthesis It has a plant living inside it!
What are zooxanthellae? Tiny plant cells that live within coral polyps Provide the coral with food resulting from photosynthesis In turn, the coral provides protection and access to light for the zooxanthellae
Symbiosis: coral & zooxanthellae symbiosis: a close relationship between two organisms usually based on food If the zooxanthellae feeds the coral, what does the zooxanthellae get out of the relationship?
Is it a rock? It’s a type of rock! Coral polyps make a stony structure out of calcium carbonate in which they live
Now you try Draw a coral on your activity guide –Include a polyp and zooxanthellae Label mouth, stomach, tentacles Draw another one next to it How do you think they communicate?
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