I had heard that corals were animals (even though they look like plants to me!). Working in the Collection Room though means I have been in contact with some amazing Black coral and have learnt a bit more about them.
Corals are animals that live in a compact colony of heaps of tiny polyps. They secrete calcium carbonate (same stuff shells are made of) to form a hard skeleton.
Black corals are branch-like and are related to sea anemones. They uniquely have tiny spines that can be very sharp and they cover the surface of the skeleton.
|Dean and Black Coral.|
There are around 58 black coral species in NZ and they mainly are found in dark waters between 200 – 1000m in depth. Because the waters are so dark in the Fiordland National Park though, they can be found as shallow as 10m depth.