Corals are tiny animals, called polyps.
Each polyp protects its fragile organs by secreting a stony cup of limestone around itself as a skeleton.
Coral colonies survive for 100s of years and may be up to 1000 years old.
The polyps divide as they grow and form coral colonies. As the coral colonies build up on top of each other, they gradually form a coral reef.
Coral reefs may be many thousands of years old, forming slowly over time, responding to changes in sea level and other environmental conditions.