Tag Archives: soft corals

Eyes

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Do coral polyps have eyes?

All polyps have tentacles, a mouth, throat, and stomach, but coral polyps do not have eyes. 

Soft Coral Polyps   Hard Coral Polyps

The eyes are the soul of my characters. I put a lot of time and thought into each pair of eyes; however, Coral is an important character in “SEA HORSE, RUN!”, and she does NOT have eyes. I knew that would make it more challenging for readers to connect with her character, but since my husband is legally blind, I decided her character would give me the opportunity to express that you don’t need eyes in order to ‘see’ and understand the world around you. One of the most profound moments in the story is when Coral sings, “I see, I see!” She knows the ‘seaweed’ is the sea dragon long before Sea Horse understands even though Sea Horse has eyes to see.

Sea Horse and Leafy

Pages 20-21 of "SEA HORSE, RUN!"

Click on a question or link below to learn more about corals:

What is a coral polyp?

How do polyps eat?

How are corals named?

Why are corals important to sea horses?

Do coral polyps have eyes?

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Coral Names

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How are corals named?

Most corals have many names. A coral’s proper name comes from the genus and species they belong to. The official name of Blue Coral is Heliopora coerulea. A coral’s proper name is hard to remember and pronounce, so coral colonies are given nicknames that describe the shape of the colony. Brain Coral is a nickname, but coral nicknames can also be confusing because some corals have more than one nickname. For example, Chalice Coral is also called ‘Lettuce Coral’ when it is covered in green algae.

Blue Corals     Brain Coral     Lettace Coral

The coral classification chart below shows some of the corals found near reefs in Australia. Hard corals are highlighted in red and soft corals are highlighted in green. Because hard polyps create coral reefs, most of the corals in “SEA HORSE, RUN!” are hard corals.

Coral Classification Chart

Click on a question or link below to learn more about corals:

What is a coral polyp?

How do polyps eat?

How are corals named?

Why are corals important to sea horses?

Do coral polyps have eyes?


How Polyps Eat

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How do polyps eat?

At night coral polyps come out of their skeletons to feed. A polyp uses tentacles to sting and capture tiny floating animals called zooplankton. The polyp’s mouth swallows the zooplankton. The zooplankton is digested in the polyp’s stomach. Some coral polyps feed by exchanging energy with tiny algae called zooxanthellae (pronounced zo-zan-THEL-ee). Zooxanthellae live inside the polyps’ tissues and create the brilliant colors seen in many corals.

Hard Coral PolypsSoft Coral Polyps

The algae in Lettuce Coral are green.

Lettace Coral

Click on a question or link below to learn more about corals:

What is a coral polyp?

How do polyps eat?

How are corals named?

Why are corals important to sea horses?

Do coral polyps have eyes?

Coral Polyps

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What is a coral polyp?

Corals

Polyps are tiny animals. Hard tree corals exist in a variety of colors. The sea anemone is a soft coral.

A polyp is an animal. Most polyps are tiny and live in clusters called ‘colonies.’ Polyps may have hard or soft skeletons. Of the 2,400 living species of corals worldwide, two-thirds of the known coral species have soft skeletons, while one-third of the species have hard skeletons. The type of polyp determines the size and shape of the colony. Some colonies look like “trees” while another colony may look like a brain!

Soft Tree Corals      Brain Coral
Soft Coral Polyps

Polyps have tentacles that extend at night in order to feed. Polyps also have a mouth, throat and stomach.

Most soft coral polyps only have eight legs (except sea anemones) whereas other polyps have twelve, eighteen or even twenty-four legs. Colonies of soft corals include: soft tree corals, sea pens, sea whips, sea fans, and sea anemones.

Sea Whip Coral     Sea Fan Coral

Hard Coral Polyps

Hard coral polyps have tentacles, a mouth, throat, and stomach, but unlike soft polyps, the hard polyps also have a base made of limestone.


When polyps with hard skeletons die, their tiny bones create a rock called ‘limestone.’ Coral reefs are made of limestone or the crushed bones of many, many millions of hard polyps! Reef-building corals include: Mushroom Coral, Staghorn Coral, Brain Coral, Bubble Coral, Chalice or Lettace Coral, and Tree or Tube Coral.

Some polyps live alone. The Mushroom Coral is a large, single polyp.

Mushroom Coral     Bubble Coral

Click on a question or link below to learn more about corals:

What is a coral polyp?

How do polyps eat?

How are corals named?

Why are corals important to sea horses?

Do coral polyps have eyes?