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Coral Reproduction

Corals are amazingly adaptable animals. They come in all shapes and sizes and have many ways to feed themselves. It should come as no surprise, then, that they also have more than one way to reproduce.

At one level, growth reproduction are the same thing in corals. The coral colony grows as its individual polyps divide to form new polyps. Thus the colony grows as polyps reproduce. The process crosses the fine line between growth and reproduction when a piece of corals break off and continues to grow. It is now a separate colony, though it is genetically identical clone of its "parent". Certain species of coral may depend a lot on this form of reproduction and actually may be adapted to break easily. After a reef is damaged by a severe storm, an important part of its recovery is the growth of pieces of shattered coral colonies.

Corals can also reproduce sexually. Like other animals, they produce eggs and sperm, which fuse and eventually develop into a planula larva. Some corals are hermaphrodites, which make both eggs and sperm, whereas other species have separate sexes.


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