As a scuba diver, you’ve probably seen corals countless times on your different dive trips. The question is, how much do you know about these incredible animals? Here are five facts you may not have known about corals:
1. Coral reefs are an important marine habitat
Corals play an important role underwater because they are not only animals, but a marine habitat to other marine species as well. In fact, about 25 percent of the world’s marine species depend on coral reefs for shelter and food.
2. There are two types of corals
There are hundreds of different coral species in the oceans, but they can all be divided up into two types: hard and soft. You’re probably most familiar with hard corals, as they are able to build reefs and soft corals are not.
3. Corals can be found in a wide range of habitats
As you know and have seen, most corals live in tropical waters close to the water’s surface. However, there are some hard coral species that live in icy waters and can actually be found 6,000 meters below the surface.
4. Coral organisms are often called “polyps”
Usually hard corals are associated with coral reefs, but they can also live on their own. These single coral organisms are then referred to as “polyps.”
5. Corals need to be protected
Corals need protection from threatening forces such as pollution and global warming. Scuba divers like yourself can do your part by raising awareness and becoming an active member of Project AWARE. You can also help maintain coral habitats by not touching the corals when scuba diving and taking the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy course. Divers who are neutrally buoyant have less impact on underwater environments.