Soft coral

Soft coral

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Credit: LIONEL, TIM & ALISTAIR/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Soft coral (Order Alcyonacea). Corals are small colonial invertebrate animals. Individual polyps may join together to make large structures, which are the basis of coral reefs. Soft corals differ from hard corals in that there is no hard calcium skeleton laid down. Instead the polyps are connected by spongy tubes, which are strengthened by small calcium carbonate fragments called sclerites. Each soft coral polyp (on the ends of the branches) has eight tentacles with which it filters food from the water.

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Keywords: animal, biological, biology, branching, colonial, colony, coral, coral reef, filter-feeder, filter-feeding, invertebrate, invertebrates, marine, nature, ocean, polyp, polyps, sea, soft coral, underwater, wildlife, zoological, zoology

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