Last updated: May 20, 2021
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff

Thought to be around 70,000 different species!

Coral Scientific Classification

Scientific Name

Coral Conservation Status

Coral Locations

Coral Locations

Coral Facts

Main Prey
Plankton, Fish, Shrimp
Distinctive Feature
Variety of colours and full of holes for species to hind in
Tropical Oceans
Starfish, Marine slugs and snails
Average Litter Size
Favorite Food
Common Name
Number Of Species
Tropical Oceans
Thought to be around 70,000 different species!

Coral Physical Characteristics

Skin Type
15 - 30 years

Coral Images

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It may shock you to know that the hole-filled rock-like substance, known as coral, is actually an animal and a vital part of the marine world. Coral is a similar animal species to the sea anemone and almost appears to be half animal and half plant when you look into what coral does.

There are thought to be around 70,000 different species of coral that are found throughout the oceans of the world but are in abundance in the southern hemisphere due to the warm and tropical climates.

Coral species are generally divided into two subspecies, depending on how many tentacles the coral individual has. Those coral species with eight tentacles are known as Alcyonaria, which includes soft coral, sea fans and sea pens. Those coral species with more than eight tentacles are known as Zoantharia, which includes the coral species that are found in coral reefs.

The coral catches small fish and animals such as plankton using stinging cells on their tentacles, although these animals obtain most of their nutrients from algae. This means that most corals depend on sunlight and grow in clear and shallow water, typically at depths shallower than 60 m (200 ft). There are however a number of coral species that have adapted to inhabiting the oceans at depths of up to 3000 m.

Corals can live from 3 months to 30 years depending on the individual coral species and the role it plays within the eco-system. For example, those coral species that make up the extensive coral reefs (like the Great Barrier Reef in Australia that stretches for over 1,600 miles in length) tend to live a lot longer than those species which are found on their own, like the softer corals.

Coral reefs in particular play an enormous part on maintaining such a high diversity of life in the world’s oceans as they not only provide excellent places for marine animals to hide from oncoming predators, but also act as a meeting and breeding ground for literally thousands of species of animals, particularly fish.

It has been predicted by scientists that over 50% of the worlds coral formations will have disappeared by the year 2030, and surprisingly not just due to growing human activity such as fishing and diving. Natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis can have a devastating effect on the coral in that area. The 2004 tsunami in south east Asia completely obliterated everything in its path, destroyed hundreds of ancient coral reefs in these tropical waters.

Many species of coral, such as the staghorn coral (a hard species of coral that branches out to look like deer antlers), are today classed as an endangered species due to the severe decrease in the coral’s range.

Types of Coral

The following list includes some common types of coral:

  • Staghorn Coral – Staghorn coral are a common coral species in the Caribbean that form dense “thickets” in shallow water. These coral colonies are tan or brown and have antler-like branches that stem from a central trunk.
  • Brain Coral – The name “Brain Coral” refers to a group of corals that are sphere-like in shape with grooved surfaces that resemble a brain. These corals can be found in shallow warm water coral reefs in oceans all over the world.
  • Hood Coral – Also known as “Smooth Cauliflower Coral,” hood coral can be found in the tropical and subtropical Indo-Pacific region. These coral are often tan, pink, blue, or green with blunt-ended branches that live in small colonies of up to 12 inches in diameter.
  • Mustard Hill Coral – The mustard hill coral is common in the Caribbean Sea and tropical areas in Atlantic Ocean. It generally grows in shallow waters but can be found at depths of up to 160 feet. Their coloration is yellow, green, or brown, and their surface has a porous appearance.
View all 88 animals that start with C

Coral FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are Corals herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

Corals are Omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and other animals.

What Kingdom do Corals belong to?

Corals belong to the Kingdom Animalia.

What phylum do Corals belong to?

Corals belong to the phylum Cnidaria.

What class do Corals belong to?

Corals belong to the class Anthozoa.

What family do Corals belong to?

Corals belong to the family Alcyonacea.

What order do Corals belong to?

Corals belong to the order Octocorallia.

Where do Corals live?

Corals live in tropical oceans.

In what type of habitat do Corals live?

Corals live in tropical oceans.

What are some distinguishing features of Corals?

Corals are colorful and full of holes for other species to hide in.

What do Corals eat?

Corals eat plankton, fish, and shrimp.

What are some predators of Corals?

Predators of Corals include starfish, marine slugs, and snails.

What is an interesting fact about Corals?

There are thought to be around 70,000 different Coral species!

What is the scientific name for Coral?

The scientific name for Coral is Anthozoa.

What is the lifespan of a Coral?

Corals can live for 15 to 30 years.

How many species of Coral are there?

There are 70,000 species of Coral.

How to say Coral in ...
  1. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2011) Animal, The Definitive Visual Guide To The World's Wildlife
  2. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals
  3. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia
  4. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species
  5. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals
  6. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals

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