Unlocking the secrets of coral,
from myth to reality




If the origins of coral and its qualities have been magnified by mythology and popular traditions, the fact remains that it has real powers. Still being studied today, the benefits of coral promise new innovations in all fields and can only encourage us to protect the treasure that it is. Especially since we have not finished piercing all the mysteries…

What is its true nature? What are its powers? The coral reveals its most beautiful secrets here.

A scientific enigma

Where does coral come from and what kind of coral is it? When did it originate? Is it a plant, an animal or a mineral?

Autant de questions dont l’une a trouvé sa réponse au milieu du XVIIIe siècle à la suite des observations du médecin et naturaliste français Jean-André Peyssonnel (1694-1759). Thanks to him, the enigma posed since antiquity has been solved: coral is indeed an animal! Today, we even know that it belongs to the jellyfish family, the cnidarians.

Superpowers, the coral?

Since Antiquity, many powers have been attributed to red coral: it protects against bad luck, cures illnesses… King Louis XIV even had it prescribed by his doctor! But what we call “coral” is not only red coral, which belongs to the gorgonian family.

Tropical coral, a reef builder belonging to the scleractinian family, has other qualities, which are well proven. Among other things, he built real underwater cities where numerous species of animals and plants are born, grow and protect themselves. One of these oases of life is even visible from space: the Great Barrier Reef in Australia!

An essential treasure that has not yet revealed all its secrets!

Today, coral continues to be studied for its qualities and capabilities. Economic resource, source of inspiration, protection… coral, this small animal that lives in colonies, has not finished surprising us. Did you know that coral protects the coastline? Healthy coral reefs absorb up to 97% of the sea’s energy (swell and waves). It is a much more effective barrier than any human construction, dike or embankment!

To unlock its secrets, scientists take cores of coral skeletons. These are valuable aids for going back in time, giving them access to the physico-chemical conditions recorded in the animal’s skeleton (temperature, salinity, pH, nutrients, etc.). Depending on the species, a 50-centimetre core can represent 100 years of colony growth. The study of its chemical composition makes it a true climate archive.

Coral core extracted from the outer reef of Egum Atoll in Papua New Guinea, November 2017 (Tara Pacific expedition) © Christoph Gerigk

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