Have you seen a coral reef? Coral reefs are found in the ocean. Many animals and plants live in it. A reef is like a little world in the ocean.
A reef looks strong, but it is not. Corals are tiny animals. They have soft bodies. Some make hard covers for their bodies. The cover is a kind of calcium (CAL-see-um). It is what a hen's eggshell is made of. Corals have different colors.
The corals that make covers for their bodies are hard corals. They do not move with the water.
The other kind is soft coral. They do not make hard covers. They bend and sway in the water.
Corals grow in shallow, warm water. Corals need clean water. If the water is not just right, the corals will die.
Coral reefs are homes for many animals. Did you know that the sponge is an animal? Sea cucumbers are animals, too. They also live on coral reefs.
Reef fish often have bright, bold colors. Some have spots or stripes. They also come in many sizes.
You would not want to touch some reef fish. Some have spines with poison for protection.
The scariest reef fish is the shark. Many sharks are much larger than people. They have hundreds of teeth. They eat fish and mammals, like dolphins.