What are Coral polyps? Significance of Coral polyps

What are Coral polyps? Well, Coral polyps are tiny microscopic structures living in coral tissue. They are known to be important for the proper development and maintenance of coral reefs. In Australia, you can find over 1500 species of corals and 5% of these are in serious danger of becoming extinct in our lifetimes.

Coral polyps are the coral inhabitants which feed the coral reef. In nature coral polyps live in almost 100 different colonies, there is no exact number as some have 200 to 300 polyps per colony. Often one colony will be completely surrounded by smaller groups of coral members without any way for animals through. In this situation, it’s considered a sanctuary. These polyps are resilient as they are able to withstand different levels of ocean exposure, but still, they cannot survive continuously without additional food sources.

Coral polyps have many different species of corals. Corals are made of many tiny zooids that are put together to make a larger shape or type. Each zooid consists of many microscopic polyps (fruits or parts) that grow into the shape of a flower or tree. The biggest type of polyp you find in a coral reef is a polyp which contains only one large fruit. Such fruits are called zooids because they are continually being made in more and more polyps over the long life cycle of a coral colony until they are harvestable as food for micro-organisms. When eaten by animals or humans, zooids release certain substances that have medicinal properties, if any.

It is believed that coral reef systems were created over 300 million years ago. This means that colorful corals have been evolving alongside other types of life on Earth for almost 500 million years! Coral polyps are feeding structures and can be found growing on both land and sea surfaces in just about every ocean ecosystem on Earth. These colorful structures are worth protecting because they seed the ocean with nutrients which result in better weather for everyone.

The most common type of coral reef found in the Indo-Pacific is an acid mine; these reefs host a caterpillar-like species called the amethystine coral polyp up until they grow into adults and become colorful coral colonies. Amethystine corals can live for decades but can reach only about a meter in diameter, less than half the diameter of an ordinary human hair. As they get older, these corals turn from green to purple and become less dense or spiky; hence their common name: