Cup coral polyps

Cup coral polyps

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Credit: MATTHEW OLDFIELD/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Coral polyps. Close-up of the polyps of a cup coral (Turbinaria sp.). Each polyp has several tentacles surrounding its mouth. The tentacles catch planktonic organisms from the water and pass them to the mouth to be eaten. The polyps secrete a hard substance which builds up large rocky structures for protection and support. This coral is found in the tropical Indo-Pacific region. It lives in a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship with algae (zooxanthellae, not seen), which provide nutrients for the coral through photosynthesis. Hard corals can form huge reefs, forming the basis for diverse marine ecosystems.

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Keywords: animal, cnidarian, coelenterate, cup coral, hard, indo-pacific, invertebrate, invertebrates, marine, mouth, nature, ocean, polyps, sea, symbiosis, symbiotic, tentacles, turbinaria sp., underwater, wildlife, zoology

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