Coral Reef Kingdom
Coral reefs are busy underwater cities. Creatures large and small live in these crowded and colorful ocean homes.
Corals are animals, not plants. These tiny animals often live together in groups, called colonies. To build a coral reef, live corals grow on top of coral skeletons, generation after generation, for thousands of years.
Coral reef homes
Some animals hide in narrow coral caves.
It's dark and safe here. Moray eels spend their days hidden from sight. When night falls, they prowl the reef, hunting for prey.
Some animals live in the coral sand.
Jawfish use their mouths and garden eels wriggle to dig burrows. When a hungry fish comes looking for them they retreat, tail-first, into their sandy homes.
High on the reef it's busy and bright.
Near the surface of the water, many colorful fish dart between towers and branches of coral. Parrotfish crunch coral and then poop sand. They produce tons of sand a year.
Where do corals live?
Corals live in oceans around the world, but corals in the cold waters along the coast of California don't build reefs. Reef-building corals thrive in clear, shallow, warm tropical seas.
Coral reef homes need protection
We can help keep the reefs alive if we care and work together. If you have an aquarium, buy fish raised in captivity, not wild fish taken from their natural homes. And don't buy coral, shells or seahorses. When people collect or buy souvenirs like shells, sea stars and coral jewelry, reefs get damaged and animals lose their homes.