Donald's father has a special job. He studies coral reefs. Today he is going to visit some near Florida. Donald knew coral reefs were beautiful. What else was there to know about them?
"What is coral, really?" Donald asked.
"It's an animal, a polyp that makes a shell around itself. Algae lives inside the shell with it. These algae have a very long name. They're called zooxanthellae. The algae make food and share it with the coral. When colonies of living coral grow together for hundreds of years on top of older ones, reefs form," Dad said.
"The corals look so amazing. Even their names like starburst and brain are so cool," Donald said.
"They are. They look cool. They have cool names. Around one out of every four fish species call coral reefs home," Dad said. "Coral reefs also make barriers that can protect beaches and homes. Many people use coral reefs as part of their work. Corals have even been used as part of medicines to help people get better."
"Wow!" Donald exclaimed. "Is that why you say coral reefs are like rain forests?"
"Yes," Dad said. "They are both beautiful. They both also are home to many different kinds of plants and animals. It's a shame we're losing both."
"Why are we losing coral reefs?" Donald asked in shock.
"We're trying to find out right now," Dad said. "If we don't, we may lose most of them by 2050. We think people and nature are each part of the problem."