Secret Life of Coral Activities

Coral is a living organism; in fact it’s made up of thousands of individual parts called coral polyps. Coral polyps are tiny soft-bodied animals related to sea anemones and jellyfish. In some corals, the polyp produces a hard skeleton. Acropora is a hard coral and is found in coral reefs all over the world.
Helpful algae live inside the coral and use sunlight to make sugar for energy. This energy provides the coral with food. In return, the coral provides the algae with carbon dioxide and a safe home. Coral can also eat by using stingers in its polyps to stun and catch food which is floating past.
Corals can form huge structures, known as reefs, which provide shelter and food for lots of other animals including sponges, anemones, starfish, crabs and turtles.

Create a Creature

You will need:
• pencils/pens
• drawing paper
• crayons/markers/colored pencils
• writing paper

What to do:
1. Discuss how different types of animals obtain food and defend themselves from becoming someone else’s lunch.

2. Brainstorm a variety of methods creatures could use to obtain food. You may want to break this down into ideas for herbivores, omnivores and carnivores.

3. Brainstorm methods the creature has for defending itself. Include methods such as camouflage, poisons, teeth, “smoke screens,” etc.

4. Use your imagination to create your own coral reef creatures, incorporating characteristics that have been discussed.

5. You can then draw a picture of the invented creature. The picture can also include a scene showing the creature in its habitat, defending itself, or obtaining food. Don’t forget to name the newly created creature.

What was happening?

Coral reefs have been called the “rainforests of the sea”. They are the most biologically diverse marine ecosystem on Earth and one of the most fragile of Earth’s environments.
Animals living in specific habitats, such as a coral reef, have special adaptations to help them survive. These adaptations can help them to find things like shelter, like the anemone fish which is immune to the sting of the anemone which it lives inside, or even to catch food, such as coral which has tiny stingers in its tentacles to sting prey as it floats past.
There are so many different animals which call coral reefs home that we are still finding new creatures living on coral reefs every year.

Make a Sea Pen

A Phosphorescent Sea Pen can grow up to 40cm in length, but only approximately half of this protrudes above the sediment it embeds in. The Sea Pen shows bioluminescence when disturbed. They are pinky red in colour and are colonial animals, with a feather like appearance.

You will need:
• paper
• scissors
• hole punch
• wire
• tape
• plasticine
• pen
• small round stickers

Download:  Sea-Pen Template, How to make Sea Pen

What to do:
Cut out the shape from the template sheet and then follow the instructions to make your own Sea Pen.

Make a Squat Lobster

A Squat Lobster is a dorsoventrally flattened lobster. They have 2 pairs of antennae and 5 pairs of legs on the main body. The longest pair of legs ends in claws and can be more than 6 times the length of the body. The smallest pair of legs are tucked up underneath the carapace and are used for cleaning.

You will need:
• paper
• scissors
• straws
• tape
• pen

Download:  Squat Lobster Template, How to make Squat Lobster

What to do:
Cut out the shape from the template sheet and then follow the instructions to make your own Squat Lobster.


To Edinburgh Science Festival

To Pale Blue Dot

To Scotland & Yokohama – Ocean Heritage