Beachcombing for Coral
Posted by Jody on July 12, 2012
Corals are actually composites of small, fragile marine animals called coral polyps. They typically live in closely grouped colonies, consisting of thousands of identical individuals.
When we think of beachcombing for coral, we are actually referring to what is classified as the “hard corals” (as opposed to soft corals). Hard corals, also named stoney corals, are known as the reef-building corals. The coral polyps create skeletons out of calcium carbonate. The polyp’s soft, delicate body is then protected by this hard skeleton. The coral pieces we find on beaches are really the bits and pieces of the skeletons of “hard coral” left behind after the animals die.
The best beach Greg and I have ever been to for collecting coral is Hapuna Beach State Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. There we found piles and piles of beautiful coral pieces like the ones pictured here. As you can probably guess, live coral thrives just off the shores of Hapuna Beach.
We’d love to hear about the coral you’ve found on beachcombing trips! Do you have a favorite coral collecting beach?
If you would like to read more about coral and coral reefs, The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) has a wonderful website full of fascinating facts. The Coral Reef Alliance website states that they are “the only international organization working exclusively to save coral reefs.” I especially enjoyed their page “Coral Reef Overview.”
Happy beachcombing and coral hunting to you!
Tips? Suggestions? Beachcombing secrets? Please share your thoughts in the comment space below. Thanks~