What is the difference between hard coral and soft coral?
Corals are marine (saltwater) invertebrate animals that usually form colonies of individual polyps, mainly in tropical reefs.
Hard coral is also called stony coral.
Hard coral is in the sub-class Hexacorallia (hexa means six), whereas bue coral and soft coral are in the sub-class Octocorallia (octo means eight).
Hard coral is in the Scleractinia order, whereas soft coral is in the Alyconacea order.
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The Warty Gorgonian (Eunicella verrucosa) is a soft marine (saltwater) coral in the Gorgoniidae family of sea fans. It is also known as the Broad Sea Fan Coral and the Pink Sea Fan Coral. It is not a plant.
The Warty Gorgonian is a branching calcareous coral. It branches into slender, warty stems and branchlets. The warts are small growths. It can be red, pink, or white. It leans in the direction of the water flow or ocean current. The polyps emerge from the warty protrusions and spread their tentacles to feed on organisms in the sea. The polyps are retractable with eight tentacles.
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The Solitary Disk Coral (Scolymia cubensis) is a solitary marine (saltwater) stony coral in the Mussidae family. It is not a plant.
The Solitary Disk Coral is flat and concave with a circular shape, like an inverted cone. It can be light-green, beige, or deep rusty red. It has layers of thick plates called septa that surround a central mouth with spongy polyps.
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The Devil’s Hand Coral (Lobophytum sp.) is a marine (saltwater) soft coral in the Alcyoniidae family of soft corals. It is also known as Devil’s Hand Leather Coral. It is not a plant.
The Devil’s Hand Coral is beige-brown. It looks like an open hand with its fingers pointing upwards. It is stiff, hard, and inflexible. It is made up of tiny polyps projecting from its leathery surface.
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The Box Jellyfish (Chirodropus sp.) is a marine (saltwater) planktonic scyphozoan in the Chirodropidae family of venomous box jellyfish. It belongs to the Cubozoa class. It is a cnidarian. It is also known as the Sea Wasp.
The medusa form of the Box Jellyfish has a cube-shaped, or box-shaped, bell. From each of the four lower corners hangs short stalks called pedalium which have about 15 slender, hollow tentacles. The rim of the bell is folded inwards to form a shelf known as a velarium. The velarium creates jet propulsion, which makes it move through the water.
In the centre of the box is a manubrium, which looks like an elephant’s trunk. This is where its mouth is located. Other jellyfish have ocelli, which are light sensing organs, instead of eyes. However, the Box Jellyfish has about 20 ocelli in addition to true eyes, set in a cluster, with retinas, corneas, and lenses. The eyes are located in pockets halfway up the outer, flat surface of the bell.
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The White-Spotted Jellyfish (Phyllorhiza punctata) is a marine (saltwater) planktonic scyphozoan in the Mastigiidae family of jellyfish. It is a cnidarian. It is also known as the Floating Bell, the Australian Spotted Jellyfish, or the Brown Jellyfish.
The White-Spotted Jellyfish has a deep-brown colour due to the algae living on the tissue. It has a bell-shaped dome with little spots. It does not have stinging tentacles. It does not have eyes. Instead, it has light-sensing organs called ocelli. It is composed of 95% of water, which enables it to float.
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The Sea Fan Coral (Pinnigorgia sp.) is a marine (saltwater) soft coral in the Gorgoniidae family of sea fans. It is not a plant.
The Sea Fan Coral has calcareous spicules (horny nodules) on branchlets. The branchlets are usually slender. It can be whiplike, bushy, or spread out like a fan. The polyps are retractable with eight tentacles. It can be purple, red, or yellowish.
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The Red Coral (Corallium rubrum formally Gorgonia nobilis) is a marine (saltwater) coral in the Corallidae family of branched limestone coral. It is also called Precious Coral. Coral is an animal, not a plant.
The Red Coral is red or pink-orange. It has branches, made from calcium carbonate, that are tree-like. It has retractable transparent white polyps with a round mouth disc surrounded by eight hollow tentacles. The tentacles have mild venom (poison). It is sessile (it does not move).
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The Yellow Cluster Anemone (Parazoanthus axinellae) is a marine (saltwater) zoanthid coral in the Parazoanthidae family. It is also known as the Sea Mimosa. It is an animal, not a plant.
The Yellow Cluster Anemone is yellow or orange. It is a cluster of individual polyps connected by a tissue called coenenchyme. Each polyp has 24-36 tentacles in two whorls. The polyps retract into their tube when threatened.
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The Elegance Coral (Catalaphyllia jardinei) is a marine (saltwater) photosynthetic coral in the Euphyllidae family of stony coral. It is also known as the Wonder Coral or the Ridge Coral. It is an animal, not a plant.
The Elegance Coral has large polyps with a large, branching coralite skeleton. The polyps have long tendrils and a large, fleshy, disc-shaped (round) mouth. It can be fluorescent green, lime green, and brown.
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The Blue Coral (Heliopora coerulea) is a species of hard marine (saltwater) coral in the Helioporidae family of octocorals. It is an animal, not a plant.
The Blue Coral has a blue skeleton made of calcium carbonate. Often it is hidden by individual greenish-grey or blue polyps that live in tubes within the skeleton. Each polyp has eight tentacles.
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The Spotted Jellyfish (Mastigias papua) is a small marine (saltwater) planktonic scyphozoanin the Mastigidae family and the phylum Cnidaria of jellyfish. It is also known as the Lagoon Jellyfish, the Golden Medusa, or the Papuan Jellyfish.
The Spotted Jellyfish has a bell-shaped dome with little spots. It does not have stinging tentacles. It does not have eyes. Instead, it has light sensing organs called ocelli. It is composed of 95% of water, which enables it to float.
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The Yellow Scroll Coral (Turbinaria reniformis) is a marine (saltwater) invertebrate in the Dendrophyllidae family of stony coral. It is an animal, not a plant.
The Yellow Scroll Coral is usually yellow or yellowish-green. It is a laminar (plate-like) species that forms horizontal plates or shallow chalices (cup-shapes) with thick walls. The skeletal cups are called coralites. The plates form a stony skeleton. Polyps protrude from the skeleton. The polyps have a central mouth disc with eight tentacles around the circular disc.
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The Pacific Sea Nettle (Chrysaora fuscescens) is a marine (saltwater) planktonic scyphozoan in the phylum Cnidaria of jellyfish. It is also called the West Coast Sea Nettle.
The Pacific Sea Nettle has a golden-brown bell-shaped dome with a reddish tint. From the bell, there are 24 long reddish tentacles and long white, spiral-shaped, oral arms. It has light sensing organs called ocelli.
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The Violescent Sea-Whip (Paramuricea clavata) is a marine (saltwater) soft coral in the Plexauridae family. It is also known as the Purple Gorgonin. It is an animal, not a plant.
The Violescent Sea-Whip is red or reddish-purple, but it may be partly yellow. It grows in the soil at the bottom of the ocean. It has branching arms, like a whip, that form a fan shape. The stem and branches are made from a protein called gorgonin, that forms a bony skeleton. Polyps protrude from the skeleton. The polyps have a central mouth disc with eight tentacles around the circular disc.
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