By Kay Winnit
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Extra resources for All About Penguins
To see what another fan worm is up to, tur n to page 38. . coral polyps. To see what a group of coral polyps is up to, turn to page 44. . coral. To see what a group of coral is up to, tur n to page 46. . algae growing in the coral. To see what the plants of the coral reef are like, tur n to page 30. Sponge 36 (Porifera) The sponges hold tight to the coral. They’re all shapes and sizes—tiny tubes, huge vases, delicate branches and stems, and giant wedges that look like elephant ears. That enormous barrel sponge over there is big enough for you to stand in.
The triggerfish uses his long snout to aim a quick puff of water at the urchin. The puff spins the urchin off its perch. It lands on the coral below. Another puff flips the urchin over. Then the sharp spines don’t matter. The triggerfish dives for the soft parts on the exposed bottom of the urchin. He munches away—right around the spines. The light is fading from the reef. The triggerfish returns to the nest. He and his mate find narrow spaces in the coral nearby. They tuck themselves in for the night by wedging the spines on their upper fins into the coral.
It might be natural for their numbers to increase and decrease in cycles. But it also might be that one of the crown-of-thorns' predators has disappeared. 47 Sharpnose Puffer Fish (Canthigaster rostrata) 48 The puffer fish skirts along the edge of the staghorn coral. He stretches out his long snout to catch a clam between his teeth. He only has four teeth—two on top and two on the bottom—but they’re perfect for pecking at hard coral, spiny urchins, and shellfish. He flitters to shallow waters, taking a nibble here and there from the underwater jungle.
All About Penguins by Kay Winnit