Most of the planet is covered by oceans and when it comes to the deepest parts, humans probably know more about the surface of the moon than the surface of their own home. The world beneath the ocean is an amazing place and one of the most amazing creatures to exist down there is coral. Although it seems as if it should be some kind of plant life, coral is in fact a living, breathing animal. A coral reef is constructed of millions upon millions of these minute little creatures that collect into a colony.
One of the most astonishing things to do on a vacation is to explore one of the many coral reefs that exist around the world. Coral are actually little polyps less than a centimeter high and they are very closely related to sea anemones. When you see a coral reef that looks more like a rock than any kind of animal you are witnessing the growth of a protective casing that builds around them. To see the really impressive coral reefs your best bet is a tropical vacation.
Coral reefs have natural enemies besides man and his pollution. One of the creatures of the sea that a coral reef does not want to see is a plain old starfish. Especially among the coral of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, starfish can destroy dozens of feet of coral reef in a year by feasting on the polyps. Starfish are constructed of a soft body with flexible tube-like feet ending in suckers. The suckers are used for both walking and feeding.
Those relatives of coral known as sea anemones make up the largest group of cnidarians. There exist at least 6,000 known species of anemone, but most of these are, in fact, coral. If you come across a sea anemone while diving, take some time to examine closely because you may actually be interacting with a creature that was born before you grandparents as some have been known to live longer than 70 years.
One of the fish most closely associated with coral reefs is that made popular by the movie Finding Nemo. You may remember that Nemo and his dad called a sea anemone home and that was not just Disney propaganda. In fact, a clownfish is also known as an anemone fish. These brightly colored orange and white fish actually have developed a symbiotic relationship with sea anemones to the point where they can freely interact within the anemone's tentacles without fear of reprisal.
Article Written By Timothy Sexton
Timothy Sexton is an award-winning author who started writing in 1994. He has written on topics ranging from politics and golf to nutrition and travel, and his work appears online for Zappos.com, Disaboom and MOJO, among others. He has also done work for "Sherlock Holmes and Philosophy." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of West Florida.