coral reefs

Bustling with a spectacular diversity of life, coral reefs are the rain forests of the oceans. Coral reefs are built by thousands of tiny organisms called polyps (PAH-lips), which form the outside layer of the reef. The inside layers of a reef are made of the skeletons of dead coral, some of which lived millions of years ago. Coral reefs provide shelter and food for thousands of different kinds of living organisms.

Image credits: main image, courtesy of NOAA, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.