Coral is an animal not a plant or a rock.
As corals grow their calcium carbonate skeletons fuse forming reefs.
Sabah is at the epicenter of the coral-triangle and has at least 550 different species.
Above: Tubastrea aurea
Living coral is beautiful and can and should be enjoyed by snorkeling or diving on natural reefs. Coral killed for souvenirs is bleached white and lifeless. Many countries have strict laws about importing and exporting corals.
The fastest growing coral grows only 10cm per year. The rate at which a stony coral colony lays down calcium carbonate depends on the species, but some of the branching species can increase in height or length by around 10 centimetres (3.9 in) a year (about the same rate at which human hair grows). Other corals, like the dome and plate species are more bulky and may only grow 0.3 to 2 centimetres (0.12 to 0.79 in) per year.
People have been killing coral to make jewelry for hundreds of years. Several groups have coloured skeltons which are harvested, dried, carved into beads and polished. Corallium species are pink, Tubipora are red, Heliopora are blue and Anipathidae are black.
Coral builds reefs which are homes to hundreds of other species. Crabs, fish, worms, sea urchins; all need the coral to survive.And people need the crabs, fish worms and sea urchins.
The colour in coral comes from algae living in the coral tissue. The oxygen and food produced by photosynthesis help the coral to grow. When the water gets too hot the algae grow tails and swim away leaving “Bleached” coral.