CoralCorals, with their vast array of shapes and sizes, have inspired imaginative names, such as the branching corals known as staghorn and elkhorn. But somewhere along the line, they started evoking more disembodied comparisons: flat brain coral, waving hand coral and, eeeuuuwww, soft finger coral.

The warm, soothing, almost amniotic waters of coral reefs belie the mayhem taking place among coral colonies. Call it coral wars. In the battle for territory, what look like living rocks flail each other with paralysis-inducing stinging tentacles and or reel out digestive filaments to liquefy their foes. Edgar Allen Poe could not have conjured these animals.

Tomorrow: Eerie blue lights.

Karen Furnweger, web editor