The Topic:
Coral Reefs

Easier - Coral is a substance that is formed by the skeletons of sea animals. Live, healthy coral is often brightly colored. Large coral groups form rounded or branching masses. A strip or ridge of solidified coral at or near an ocean surface is called a coral reef.
Harder - Coral is a limestone formation formed in the sea by millions of tiny animals called polyps. Most coral polyps live together in colonies. They attach themselves to each other with a flat sheet of tissue that connects to the middle of another polyp body; half of the coral polyp extends above and the remaining half is below the connective sheet. Coral polyps remove calcium out of the sea water to build their limestone skeletons. They then deposit calcium carbonate (limestone) around their lower body halves. When the animals die, they leave limestone "skeletons" that become the foundations of barriers and ridges called coral reefs. As new polyps grow, their mass makes the limestone formation larger and larger.
Diverse coral formations may resemble branching trees, large domes, small irregular crusts, or tiny organ pipes. The living coral-forming animals color the formations in beautiful hues of tan, orange, yellow, purple, and green. Coral animals cannot live in water cooler than 65 °F (18 °C), therefore coral reefs are found mostly in warm, shallow, and tropical seas.
Coral Reef from Enchanted Learning
Start with a summary of coral reefs, then go to the coral reef animal printouts.
Related Websites:
2) All About the Coral Reef
3) Coral Reefs from In The Wild
4) Coral Reefs from Solcomhouse
5) Coral Reefs from National Parks Conservation Association
6) Coral Reefs from the World Wildlife Federation
7) Coral Reefs: The Rainforests of the Sea from Ocean World
Coral Reef Fishes
Of all the creatures dwelling on coral reefs, none are more active or obvious than the fishes. Learn more about them.
Fisheye View Cam
Here you can see spectacular views of coral and their behaviors from marine biologists in Coral Gables, Florida.
25 Things You Can Do To Help Save Coral Reefs
Items 1 to 5
Items 6 to 10
Items 11 to 15
Items 16 to 20
Items 21 to 25
Find out what you can do to help protect these 'rain forests of the sea.'
Related Websites:
2) Coral Reef Protection from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Wetlands, Oceans, & Watersheds
3) Coral Reefs from Mother Jones Action Atlas
4) Coral Reef Ecology
5) Guide To Protecting Coral Reefs
6) National Plan Breathes New Life Into Coral Reefs by L. Chubb
7) What You Can Do from Reef Relief
8) Saving the Coral Reefs by R. Moreau, Newsweek
After visiting several of the websites for coral reefs, complete one or more of the following activities:
Complete A Coral Reefs WebQuest. Modify or follow the instructions found at one of the following webQuest sites:
1) Coral Reefs Endangerer by A. Bates
2) Dive to the Coral Reef Web Quest by A. Scott
3) Murder in the Tropics: An Online WhoDunIt by Z. Gladstone
4) Operation Reef Rescue! A Coral Reef WebQuest by D. Breslow, J. Brooks, R. Crump,
& J. Monahon
5) Save the Coral Reefs (Grade 6) by S. Wilson
Create A Coral Reef Mural. Layout and construct your own coral reef artwork. Include the wide range of marine life found in a healthy coral reef. Incorporate the vivid colors found in coral colonies. Display your completed work.
Take Action to Save Coral Reefs. Predictions for coral reef depredation are both imminent and grave. Research the problem and its effects at sites below:
1) Climate Change and the World's Coral Reefs from Greenpeace
2) Coral Reefs and Climate Change from the National Wildlife Federation
3) Coral Reefs: Are We Doing Too Little Too Late? from CNN
4) Coral Reefs and Biodiversity: What Does Management Have To Do With It?
by F. Talbot
5) Coral Reefs 'Face Total Destruction Within 50 Years' by T. Radford, The Guardian,7369,547356,00.html
6) Reefs Damaged by Global Warming for 100 Years
7) Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2000 by C. Wilkinson
from the Australian Institute of Marine Science
Follow up by exploring the sites that recommend steps you can take to help save our coral reefs. Layout your own personal action plan that details the steps you are going to take. Follow through. Keep a journal record of your actions.
Create A 'Save the Coral Reefs' Poster. Help educate and influence others to take part in saving our planet's coral reefs. Display your completed poster in a public location - - see if your school, public library, or neighborhood grocery will post your work.
Compare / Contrast Coral Reefs With Tide Pools. Analyze these two marine ecosystems. How are they alike and how do they differ? Show your results in a spreadsheet or in an Inspiration chart. You can learn more at the 42eXplore project: Tide Pools.
Write A Coral Reef Poem. Create an original poem about tide pools. You may want to illustrate it with your own artwork. Share your poetry with family and friends.
Speculate On the Future of Coral Reefs. Pretend that it is the year 2100. What will our planet's coral reefs be like then? Write two different scenarios: (1) the best possible situation and why/how it took place and (2) what may happen if we cannot save them.
Websites By Kids For Kids
Coral Realm (1999 ThinkQuest Internet Challenge)
Explore the uniqueness of the coral reefs and their living inhabitants. Learn about ecological issues and the many ways to protect these natural structures of coral reefs.
Coral Reef: An Underwater Garden (2001 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
The students in this group became "oceanographers" and used a variety of resources to locate facts and compile information about the Coral Reef.
Coral Reef Animals (Grade 5) from Bardwell Elementary School, Illinois
1) and
Here you can find what students learned about many different marine animals from clownfish to shellfish to silvertip sharks and lots more.
Coral Reefs (1998 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
Learn more about coral reefs and complete some related activities.
Coral Reefs (1999 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
This site teaches about the importance of coral, types of coral, and coral reefs.
Coral Reefs (1999 ThinkQuest Internet Challenge)
Plant or Animal? Learn the facts about the ecology and conservation of coral reefs. The plight of coral reefs around the world, their disappearance due to pollution, overfishing, and other ecological change, needs to be known and prevented.
Explore the Coral Reefs (1999 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
Learn about life in the coral reef: who or what lives in the reef, where they are found, water temperature, and more.
Great Barrier Reef (2000 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
From environmental issues to how coral grows, this site provides information about the Great Barrier Reef.
Reef Organisms from a class at Kapunahala Elementary School, Hawaii
This site contains descriptions and illustrations of various reef organisms found in Hawaiian tide pools, such as mollusks, sponges, and fish.
Venture into Hawaii's Coral Reef ( Platinum Award, 2000 ThinkQuest Junior Project) from Enchanted Lake Elementary School, Hawaii
This project validates that Hawaii's coral reef is indeed the tropical rain forest of the sea.
Welcome to the Coral Reef (1999 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
Learn what is happening to coral reefs and what you can do to help save them.
More Websites About Coral Reefs
Coral Reef Ecology from the U.S. Geological Survey
Site contains information specific to coral reefs in the Caribbean and western Atlantic regions, plus a printable information sheets on coral reef ecology.
Coral Reefs from SeaWorld/Busch Gardens
This site has facts about coral reefs and links to organizations attempting to preserve them.
Related Websites from SeaWorld/Busch Gardens:
2) Corals and Coral Reefs
Similar Websites from Other Organizations:
3) Coral Reef Alliance
4) Coral Reefs form the National Aquarium in Baltimore
Fact Sheet - Coral Reefs by the Ecological Society of America
Learn about the ecological role of coral reefs and threats to them.
Related Website:
2) Coral Reef Fact Sheet
Great Barrier Reef (Australia)
Learn about the world's largest coral reef .
Related Websites:
2) Great Barrier Reef and Islands
3) Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
4) How the Great Barrier Reef Was Formed by B. Tobin
Hawaii's Coral Reef Network
This website provides extensive information on the many coral reef communities of the Hawaiian Islands.
'Ocean Pulse' - Coral Reef Monitoring
This school project educates the community about coral reef ecology. It was active from 1995 to 2000. Their vision was to establish a global network of informed and empowered 'reef keepers' to insure the well-being of coral reefs worldwide for future generations.
Palmyra Atoll: Rainforest of the Sea from One World Journeys
Join an an expedition exploring the coral reefs of the Palmyra Atoll.
Reef Zone Tour
Take a tour of the various zones which make up a coral reef.
Websites For Teachers
Barrier Reef Lesson Plan
This page contains, ready to go, all the background information you need to teach the lesson, including handouts and evaluation materials.
Coral Reefs (Grades 6-8) by B. Hedberg from Discovery School
Students will understand the animals that live in a coral reef are uniquely suited to their environment.
Dinnertime on the Reef from the Smithsonian Institute
In this lesson, learners will identify the main parts of a coral reef and describe the coral reef food chain.
Explore the Coral Reefs (Grades 4-6) by W. Brooks, L. Price, and A. Abbuhl
The goal of the lesson is to generate interest in and knowledge about Coral Reefs. Students will produce exhibitions which demonstrate knowledge and understanding of coral reefs.
Into the Sea: A Lifetime of Color (Grades 5-6) from Sanford
In this 'springboard' lesson activity, students conduct research to find and then color code the locations of coral reefs around the world.
Related Lesson:
2) Build a Coral Reef (Grades 2-5) by N.Ericson, L. Gruber, S. McNeal, and K. Myers
coral reef
sea water
tide pool
endangered specie
global warming
white band disease
black band disease
marine reserve
calcium carbonate
fringing reef
barrier reef
coral bleaching
climate change
continental shelf
symbiotic relationship
coastal development
reef degradation
marine ecosystem
hard coral
coral-eating starfish
sea grass
soft coral
Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 12/01.