Coral reefs are among the most special and most interesting habitats to explore, coral reef animals stunning with their diversity and colorfulness. Fish, sharks, shrimps, urchins, eels and many-many more live and strive among the corals, some reefs hosting as many as 3,500 different species. Coral reefs are popular places because they provide food and shelter as well. Prey animals can easily hide among the flowers and branches of the corals, while predators can find plenty of prey to catch, creating the complex food web of the coral reef.
In what follows, we would like to present a few of the major animal species that inhabit coral reefs, in an attempt to prove that coral reefs are indeed the most diverse habitats in the world’s seas.
This category of coral reef animals includes turtles, fish, sea snakes and manatees, with fish being the most populous and the most varied.
Coral reefs have specific structures that define the composition of the marine life surrounding it, the fish living in this environment being species that have adapted to these special conditions. The fish that live among corals have a thin, flat body to be able to pass through narrow ways and to take sharp turns if necessary. These coral reef animals display special color combinations, too, the bold, bright colors serving purposes of concealment and mating. The feeding apparatus of these fish has also adapted to the special environment, making them able to scrape or cut into algae.
Invertebrates are the primary builders of the reef itself and also the most populous category from all coral reef animals. Sponges, mollusks, crustaceans and echinoderms are to be found among corals in great variety, their existence being crucial for the survival of the reef.
Echinoderms are perhaps the most spectacular of all these animals. They derive their name from their spiny skin and the class includes such famous members as sea stars and sea urchins.
Invertebrate coral reef dwellers also include crustaceans like shrimps, crabs or lobsters as well. Crustaceans also play a very important role in the biological balance of the coral reef: scavengers clean the reef of the remains of decayed animals, while omnivores and predators also have their distinct, crucially important role.
Coral reef animals make up the world’s most colorful eco-system – each species has its well-defined role in the life of the reef and each of them is delightful in its own way.