Photo: Foster Bam

Marvel at the wide array of colors and shapes of corals. Come face to face with a garden eel. Dart through anemones with a clown fish. Check out the following books, DVD and specimens in the Naturalist Center, as well as other resources. Then see live animals from coral reefs in our Philippine Coral Reef exhibit.

Book and Media Reviews

MacGillivray Freeman’s Coral Reef Adventure. DVD. (43 mins.). Image Entertainment, 2004. Nat. Ctr. Media QH541.5 .C7 C663 2004

Coral reefs represent one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, yet they also are one of the most threatened. Join ocean explorers Howard and Michelle Hall as they visit several different reefs, diving with marine scientists and local islanders. They attempt to determine the causes of the degradation of coral reefs, as well as examine the resilience of this fascinating underwater world. Breathtaking scenery, colorful corals and unusual creatures abound, immersing the viewers in an experience that awakens their senses.


Bingham, Caroline. Coral Reef. 24 Hours Series. New York: DK Publishing, 2005. Nat. Ctr. Juv. QL125 .B56 2005

From dawn to dusk, a coral reef is a busy place. Take an hour-by-hour journey to a coral reef, learning about the unique characteristics of the various creatures found there. Facts abound on each page and colorful photos provide an up-close and personal view of life on the reef. Includes a handy glossary and index. Recommended for grades 3-5.


Vernon, Jen. Corals of the World. Townsville, Queensland: Australian Institute of Marine Science, 2000. Nat. Ctr. Ref. QL377 .C5 V44 2000.

This comprehensive three-volume set of books provides detailed information on corals from all parts of the world. Volume one includes introductory chapters that present the different types of coral reefs, information on coral structure, the geological history of corals and an overview of the taxonomy and distribution of corals. The rest of this volume and all of volume two include detailed species descriptions of corals arranged by taxonomic families. Various photos for each species are also included. Volume three contains the final species descriptions, as well as concluding chapters on the biogeography of corals, an examination of what exactly a species is and the evolutionary history of coral species. Includes keys to genera and species, an extensive list of references and a list of common names for several coral species. For all things coral, this is the book to turn to.


Read an engaging book or seen a fabulous movie about coral reefs? Share the title and why you liked it with us below in our comments section.

Creature Features

Photo: G. Sharlow

Cauliflower Coral

Unless you don’t mind breaking a tooth or two, you definitely don’t want to bite into this cauliflower coral (Pocillopora meandrina). Like other hard corals, its skeleton is made up of calcium carbonate, the same mineral snails and shellfish use to build their shells. This material is what’s left behind when the colony’s polyp inhabitants--close relatives of sea anemones and jellyfish--die. Cauliflower corals are found on exposed reef fronts around the Pacific and Indian Oceans


Photo: G. Sharlow

Organ-Pipe Coral

Despite their melodious name and look, organ-pipe corals (Tubipora musica) aren’t aquatic musical instruments. They use their red tubes as homes through which they wave their greenish white tentacles to capture microscopic food. Most of their nutrition, however, comes from the photosynthetic algae (zooxanthellae) that live inside them. This symbiotic relationship confines organ-pipe corals to the shallow waters of the western Pacific Ocean and the Red Sea.

See an array of live corals and the many animals that depend on them in our Philippine Coral Reef, one of the world’s deepest live coral exhibits.

Want to find out more about coral reefs and their inhabitants? Visit:

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