We all are familiar with corals or have at least heard of them at some point in our lives. Corals are an extremely important part of our nature and marine life.
They are beautiful creatures that are found in abundance in most subtropical waters and have become a crucial part of the tourism industry as well.
With corals becoming extremely rare to find and sustain, we must learn more about them and create awareness regarding their protection.
In this article, we would discuss corals, what are they, how you can tell if they are alive, and most importantly, whether you should take them with you from a beach.
What is a Coral?
Corals are a type of marine species that are invertebrate animals linked with anemones or jellyfish in their biological structure.
Corals have large colonies which may consist of thousands of polyps and are extremely soft and sensitive in their exterior.
The corals develop in stages and with the polyps growing and building their exoskeleton, they may lead to the formation of large coral reefs.
Coral reefs may have a large population of corals and may be too diverse, providing several marine organisms and insects their shelter and food.
They also safeguard the shores of the ocean and are an integral part of the entire marine ecosystem.
What Does Coral Do if You Touch It?
If you have studied anything about corals or have been instructed by the local authorities, you would know that it is not a good idea to disturb the corals with your touch.
Nevertheless, in case you touch a coral, you can expect to harm it, as they are extremely delicate and soft.
They react almost instantly to the touch of anything, and you may be able to notice a contraction in its outer surface, or you may end up killing the polyps.
This can lead to severe damage to the entire batch of corals and it can also harm you in many cases.
There are many reported cases of people facing allergic reactions or redness in the area where they touched the coral.
Moreover, even if you feel that a coral is dead, it is not a good idea to touch it or disturb it through any means.
How Can You Tell if Coral is Alive?
There are several ways to know if the corals you find at the beach are alive or dead. Although it is crucial to note that you may not always be able to tell the difference if you are not a professional or expert.
The most basic consideration is to observe it for a while and notice if the coral is exhibiting any sort of movement.
If the coral is alive, it is going to show some retraction or expansion movement, which you may be able to tell by the touch of it.
Additionally, if the coral looks colorful and vibrant, it may be another sign of life in the coral. Further, if you see that the coral is growing with time, you may be able to notice that it is alive.
How Do You Clean Coral from the Beach?
In case you come across a coral at a beach and are thinking of cleaning it, there may be a few things you must consider before doing so.
The first is that you must find clean water to wash the coral and get rid of any kind of debris or stones from the coral that may be in it.
Then, you can either soak the coral for a while in a cleaning solution or simply scrub it using a brush and then wash the coral with water again.
Although it depends on the type of coral, you must remember to not be harsh or to collect corals from the areas where it is not allowed to do so.
Can You Take Coral from the Beach?
If you are planning to visit a beach and the area you are visiting has a recorded population of corals, you might be tempted to see them or even take them home with you.
Many people have attempted to do this and also think of doing it, but you must know that it is strictly advised that you must not do so. There may be several reasons for it.
The most important is that taking corals away from the beach would devoid them of their natural habitat and also other organisms that seek shelter in it.
Moreover, you must note that in most of the areas with coral populations, it may be a criminal offense to displace or carry corals back with you.
In case you are an avid collector of corals and are interested in studying them, you must get in touch with the local government or the reputed marine research organisations, to avail the samples.
Are You Allowed to Take Dead Coral Home?
Whether a coral is dead or alive, you must note that in most of the areas around the world where they are found, it is illegal to take them home or to keep them in possession.
Corals, whether dead or alive form a crucial element of the ecosystem of oceans and are also important for the life of other organisms found in the sea.
If you ever take a dead coral home, you are not only disturbing the marine life and balance but also committing a serious offense.
Nevertheless, you should read about the place you are visiting and ensure that you are well-versed with the local rules and regulations.
Therefore, in a nutshell, we learned a lot about coral, how reefs are formed, what happens if you touch a coral, and whether you are supposed to take it home.
Thus, it is advised that even if you are interested in traveling and capturing the beauty of corals, you must do so with extreme precaution and under the careful guidance of experts.
You must not disturb their natural habitat or touch them unnecessarily.