The beautiful, organized structure of corals keeps viewers in wonder and engaged as fish playfully dart in and out of the reef’s safety and scavenge food from the coral in a symbiotic relationship. Providing, food, shelter, and protection, corals are one of the foundations for all ocean life.
Corals are actually tiny (between 1/25th to 7 inches in diameter), cylinder shaped, living animals called polyps that form huge colonies like the one pictured here at the Maui Ocean Center.
Hawaii has a wide range of about 50 shallow-water corals, although most are hard corals–as opposed to soft corals that sway in the ocean currents of some reefs like Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Without corals, there would be no reef, and ocean life would collapse.