EarthLabs > Corals > Lab 2: Anatomy of Coral

Anatomy of Coral

Introduction

Diagram of the anatomy of a single coral polyp. Image courtesy of NOAA.

Visible from outer space, the Great Barrier Reef off the eastern coast of Australia, is the world's largest coral reef system and the world's biggest single structure made by live organisms. If you were to move in for a closer look, you would see that the Great Barrier Reef is actually composed of thousands of smaller individual reefs. Getting closer still, you would find that each of these smaller reefs is made up of many coral heads, which themselves are made up of up to millions of tiny organisms called polyps.

You will begin this lab by examining hydra, a fresh-water relative of coral, under a microscope to observe feeding behavior and identify stinging cells that are characteristic of corals. You will also learn more about the individual animals that make up coral reefs and make a model of polyp anatomy and feeding behavior.

After completing this investigation, you should be able to:



Keeping Track of What You Learn

Throughout these labs, you will find two kinds of questions. Your teacher will let you know which answers you should record and turn in.

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