A Web Comic Exploring Ocean Science
Welcome to the Coral County Library!
Welcome to the Coral County Library! This page acts as a science encyclopedia to further your knowledge of terms & concepts from the Coral County Comics! Start by clicking a letter or scrolling down to learn more about marine biology and our ocean friends!
Definitions by PhD Candidate Ryan McMinds and Brianna E. Leahy
Acropora is a genus of corals and is one of the most common found worldwide. They tend to be extremely fast-growing, and can thus recover quickly after damage due to events such as storms. However, they also tend to be very sensitive to disease.
The term algae refers to a large number of photosynthetic organisms, many of which are not closely related to one another. Many species of algae are microscopic, including the Symbiodinium that live within coral tissues. In this story, the term algae will most often refer to "macroalgae", which are large, plant-like organisms that grow in coral reefs and other locations. On reefs, these macroalgae are known to compete with and often harm corals.
The term "coral bleaching' describes a process, or chain of events in coral health.
(A) Usually, a coral has Symbiodinium living inside them.
(B) When a coral feels stressed out (by heat for example), coral polyps will start to expel/get rid of the Symbiodinium from inside their bodies.
(C) "Bleaching corals" are those whose polyps loose their Symbiodinium. Corals turn white as they bleach. A "bleached coral" can be totally white. A bleaching coral is not healthy or happy! If the corals stay bleached for too long, they can die. So it is important that corals recover and heal fast!
Coral will stay bleached until they are happy with their environment again (e.g. the water cools down again). When this happens, corals will allow Symbiodinium to live with them again, and they can heal!
bleaching: use: "coral bleaching (event)", "a bleached coral"
coral: (see also: reef, Acropora)
Corals come in a large variety of shapes and sizes, and live in the warm, shallow waters of our oceans.
What exactly is a coral?
What we call "a coral" is actually a community of coral polyps. Coral polyps are small animals that thrive in large groups. Each polyp has tentacles, a mouth & stomach. Coral polyps rely on Symbiodinium to help them get enough energy.
What do corals eat?
In addition to the energy the Symbiodinium provides, each small coral polyp eats microscopic organisms floating in the water. They use their tentacles to catch and scoop their prey to their mouths.
How does coral grow?
Communities of polyps and their calcium deposits form the larger hard structure we think of as a "coral". Coral polyps can deposit layers of calcium beneath themselves. Slowly, over time, this process of depositing layer over layer creates a large, hard-as-rock calcium skeleton.
Coral County is the setting for our story! Coral County is a fictitious place, but it represents real-world coral reef communities and their challenges.
The marine life depicted in 'Coral County' most closely resembles real coral reef life around the island of Mo'orea, located in the South Pacific Ocean. This is where the marine biologists from the Vega Thurber Lab do a lot of their research. Learn more: 'Scientists of Coral County Comic'.
Coral County is home to our lovable characters: Mister and Missus Crab, Perri, and her fellow parrotfish friends. Their reef is also home to algae, and Acropora corals. A nearby reef is home to dolphins, Platygyra coral, Pocillopora coral, Montipora coral, and Teddy the Tardigrade.
crab: (see also: Trapezia crab)
Crabs are crustaceans that have a pair of claws and eight legs. Various types of crabs can be found all over the world. They can live in salt water, fresh water, and on land.
Crabs are "decapod crustaceans", a group that also includes shrimp and lobsters.
In this story: Mister and Missus Crab.
parrotfish: Scaridae (Family)
Parrotfish have very strong beak-like teeth that are capable of biting into coral! These fish have a diverse diet, which also includes varying types of algae. Parrotfish live in coral reefs around the world.
In this story, Perri Parrotfish and her friends are Globehead Parrotfish, or Scarus globiceps. Male Scarus globiceps parrotfish has a mostly green-blue body, while female parrotfish have mostly brown bodies. Globehead parrotfish live in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
reef (coral): (see also: coral)
Coral reefs are large rock-like structures created over thousands of years by a diverse community of animals and other organisms. Corals themselves are the main engineers of this structure, and form the foundation for all the other members of the community.
spinner dolphin: Stenella longirostris
Known for their acrobatics, spinner dolphins are so called because of their agility as they leap from the water, flip and spin!
Stenella longirostris is a small dolphin who lives in tropical waters around the world. They have a long, narrow snout, and can eat small fish, shrimp, and squid. Spinner dolphins often use teamwork to swim around and herd their prey for an easier catch.
Trapezia crab: also known as "guard crab".
(See also: crab)
Trapezia crabs are corals' small & tough defenders. The crabs make their homes in Acropora and Pocillopora corals, and benefit from the shelter the corals give. In return, Trapezia crabs help the corals by keeping them clear of debris (unwanted sand, sea life debris, etc.), and defending them from predatory snails and seastars. Their greatest challenge is defending against the large crown-of-thorns seastar.
In this story, Mister & Missus Crab are Trapezia areolata crabs. They can be identify by their orange to red bodies, with lighter orange to yellow spots on their bodies and limbs.
"In this story: Mister & Missus Crab.