Brain Coral

When I saw the brain coral in the wild for the first time I was surprised by how much it actually looks like a brain! I also loved looking at it and trying to follow the different curves of the coral as they snaked around.

Where does it live?:

Coral lives all over the world in tropical ocean water. Indonesia is part of the coral triangle which is an area from Indonesia up to the Philippines and then down to Australia. In this region, there are at least 500 species of coral found including the brain coral. In the U.S., coral reefs can be found off the coast of Florida and Hawaii. 

How does it use its environment to survive?:

Corals use their environment for food, energy and oxygen. Corals live in a symbiotic mutually beneficial relationship with photosynthetic algae called zooxanthellae. These zooxanthellae create energy from the sun that the coral uses and in return the coral provides them with a structure to live on. To build the coral skeletons corals take in carbon, calcium and oxygen from the water. From these components, they are able to make their calcium carbonate skeleton. Corals also breathe in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide like humans. The zooxanthellae use this carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen like plants on land do. 

What can harm this creature or plant? Are we worried about it?:

Corals are at risk because of climate change, ocean acidification and lack of protection from ships and tourists. Many types of corals cannot live in a wide temperature range meaning even a few degrees warming of the ocean will cause corals to bleach and die.