Life in the Reef

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Coral reefs are home to a huge variety of plants and animals. Did you know that more than 4,000 different types of fish live in coral reefs?

Great hunting sharks live around coral reefs, as well as snails, octopuses and sea urchins. Other examples of life found in coral reefs are sponges, which give shelter to small fish, and giant clams.

Have you ever seen a coral?

There are two main types:

1.       A hard coral, which is covered in a hard, bone-like skeleton.

2.       A soft coral, which doesn’t have any hard skeleton around it at all.

The corals found in the Irish coral reefs look like bushes with lots of different branches. Some of these can grow to the height of a car, while other parts of the reef can grow up to 300 metres tall. That’s around the same height as the Eiffel Tower in Paris!

How does a coral form?

Corals are formed from small sea creatures called polyps. Thousands of polyps live among the coral reefs and some of them have a hard skeleton that covers their bodies. When these polyps die, their skeletons remain in the water and build up to form coral reefs.