Rhode Island to consider naming an official state coral

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island is considering a state coral to join the official state bird, state fish and state insect.

The General Assembly is expected to vote this week on giving the special designation to the northern star coral, which is found in Narragansett Bay and other waters around Rhode Island.

The northern star coral is different from better-known corals that grow in the Florida Keys or Hawaii. Unlike those colorful reef-building corals, colonies of northern star coral look a bit drab and more like plain rocks, The Providence Journal reported. It also quite hardy, thriving in both warm and cold waters.

It doesn’t have a lot of competition when it comes to popularity in The Ocean State. “Because it’s the only coral in Rhode Island,” laughs Koty Sharp, a coral expert at Roger Williams University.

Sharp supports the bill because it draws attention to climate change and its impact on the ocean. So does the Department of Environmental Management, which hopes the designation will generate interest in the marine environment.

Sen. James Seveney, the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, said the bill doesn’t cost taxpayers anything, and he has a ready response for critics.

“Grow a sense of humor, would you?” he told the “It’s fun.”

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