noun, plural: soft corals
Corals are invertebrate species. They belong to the class Anthozoa of phylum Cnidaria. Corals may be hard corals or soft corals. Hard corals form a colony and serve as a primary component of a coral reef. That is because they form a stony skeleton by depositing calcium carbonate. Soft corals do not produce calcium carbonate skeletons and therefore they lack hard skeletons and do not produce coral reefs. Instead of a stony skeleton the soft corals have sclerites, which are spiny elements that provide structural support up to a certain degree to their soft body. The presence of sclerites also helps them against predators that detest them due to their grainy texture.
Soft corals belong to the order Alcyonacea. They are exemplified by sea fans and sea whips. These animals are flexible and resemble trees. They can be found to inhabit darker and colder areas of the ocean.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Cnidaria
- Class: Anthozoa
- Subclass: Octocorallia
- Order: Alcyonacea [Lamouroux, 1812]