Do polyps move?

Are you fascinated by the world below our feet? The mysterious, incomprehensible universe beneath the water surface is an enigma to us. We all have heard about polyps, but do they move? That’s a question as old as time itself. Dive in with me as we unravel this mystery of nature.

What are Polyps?

First things first: let’s get acquainted with what polyps are before figuring out if they can move or not (spoiler alert: we’ll find that out later).

Polyp is a general term used to describe various marine invertebrates related to corals, jellyfishes and sea anemones. They belong to Phylum Cnidaria, which means “nettle-bearing.” Cute little creatures aren’t they! Underneath their seemingly innocent exterior lies a dark secret – some species are deadly venomous.

Polyp size varies between 2 mm to over 3 meters long (9 feet)! Their shape ranges from cylindrical, disc-shaped, conical or bulb-shaped depending on their type and environment. Isn’t it fascinating how diverse life forms can be!!

Some species have tentacles located around their mouths that help them capture small prey like microscopic animals such as plankton and other tiny aquatic organisms like your ex (just kidding). In many cases however those tentacles play important roles beyond just capturing food!

Can Polyps Really Move?

Now comes the million-dollar question —can these mystical creatures actually move? As always when trying to figure something complicated like this out… It depends! How’s that for unsatisfying?! But seriously though – some types of polyps CAN move whilst others remain stationary throughout their lives.

Sedentary Vs Motile Species

Sedentary polyps stick themselves firmly onto hard surfaces using basal disks acting similarly to suction cups while motile ones (will take you guessing..) are capable of making their way around.

Let’s break our subject down into two parts:

Sedentary Polyps

The basic definition, which all other definitions will be compared to! There’s a large proportion of polyp species that really do not move at all. These sedentary entities grow as colonies or individual individuals attached and anchored to a hard substrate such as rocks, shells, corals or dead coral skeletons with little movement around their basal disk (show me the suction cup action!) unless strong currents disturb them!

One highly populated example is reef-building corals which have been responsible for creating some of the most beautiful natural structures on our planet. Their immobility may hold true throughout most of their lives but there are times when they’re known to stretch out in order get better exposure from sunlight & movement from water on surrounding conditions.

Motile Polyps

Yes,polyps can actually “move” in different ways depending on various factors unique to each species:

  • Some float freely using jet propulsion thanks to contraction and relaxation actions produced by muscle systems within an umbrella-shaped dome
  • Others crawl atop debris leaving behind a trail called ‘pangolin walk’
    Some polyp types move through contractions and expansions similar shape-sifting-like moves (#MindBlown)

There is also one particular type of motile polyp (one we detected) uses its whole body length as an anchor producing tube like structures named Tubularian – this specie does something you’ll see further explained down below…

Let’s not Forget About Reproduction & How It Affects Movement

Unlike us mere mortals who reproduce sexually henceforth needing some kind movement towards another human being / machine/ self pleasuring attempts ;), Majority polyps often choose much more convenient method: They clone themselves!

Lucky for them since no need for bars date approaches, no awkward late-night phone calls or long discussions regarding which studio-Ghibli film is best (spoiler alert: it’s ‘Totoro’). So yea… That’s the way they reproduce.

However, some species do also have a sexual cycle allowing them to produce gametes. Once fertilized they develop into larvae which enlist in planktonic life stages before eventually settling down and becoming stationary/ moving polyps.


So there you have it folks! There are over 10 thousand descriptions of polyp species around the world with all sorts of different activities including those who never move at all to those mobile ones that crawl around on debris & even some able to float using jet propulsion!

Though some types may remain immobile due throughout their lifetime, must admit however other varieties show impressive movement including “walking” with the help of their tentacles wouldn’t mind seeing that! Remember if you ever encounter an unfamiliar organism when exploring the oceans /water bodies be sure to approach safely, as not all animals want humans sticking their noses (and fingers) where they don’t belong 😉

Until next time- Happy diving pals!!!

Stay curious and keep exploring!