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Coral Taxonomy (2)
•Corals are most generally categorized as cnidarians.
•Phylum also includes sea anemones and jellyfish.
Cnidarian Characteristics (3)
•Multicellular animals that have specialized tissues to perform specific functions.
•Radial symmetry: Where similar parts of the body are arranged and repeated around a central axis.
•No head, front, back.
•Oral surface where the mouth is an aboral surface on the opposite end.
Cnidarian Characteristics (4) Part 2
•Centrally located mouth surrounded by tentacles,
•Mouth opens to gut where food is digested.
•Captures pray with stinging cells called nematocysts
•5 Subphylums: Anthozoa, Cubozoa, Hydrozoa, Scyphozoa, and Staurozoa.
•Wide range of forms and life histories.–
Often feathery colonies that attaches to pilings or shells (Portuguese man-of-war).–
Hydroids which are a common type are often mistaken for true coral.
–Hyroids have many stages and can be mistaken for everything from algae to jellyfish to corals.
–Fire coral is not a true coral.
•Large jellyfish which have a dominant medusa state.
•Have a rounded bell that can reach a diameter of 10ft across.
•Contract their bell to move but are still considered mostly planktonic since they drift with the currents.
•Box jellyfish and sea wasps
•Similar to true jelly fish–Have square shape when viewed from above.
•Some of the deadliest creatures in the world.
•Only medusa stage, looks similar to polyp.
•Larvae crawl around until they find a suitable spot.
•Only recently classified as being a separate class from Scyphozoans.
•Include sea anemones, corals and related animals.
•Lack a medusa stage–Can be individual or colonial.–Their gut contains several thin partitions called septa
•Provide additional surface area
Coral Polyps (2)
•Most people mistakenly believe that coral reefs are made of rock.–What are they made of?
•Million of tiny animals called coral polyps.–Soft sac-like body with one end closed and the other opening at a mouth surrounded by tentacles and stinging cells.
–Each coral polyp secretes a hard limestone skeleton. Over time these create the reefs we see today.
•Polyps live in a skeleton of CaCO3, the living part of the coral is only a thin layer on the outside.
•Lack brains or true nerves, but they due have specialized cells that form a nerve net that allows them to “feel” their environment.
•Produce a mucus that they use for protections, food capture, and sediment removal.
•The Class Anthozoa is broken in to 3 subclasses:
•Have eight tentacles on their polyps.
•Do not produce CaCO3 skeletons.•Soft corals (spicules or protein rods).
•Flexible branch like stalks that appear to grow from the sediment.
•Over 50 species in the Caribbean, very hard to differentiate.