Coral reefs are among the most fascinating facets of marine habitat. This article can provide you with some interesting and amazing coral reef information.
Coral reefs are those sea structures that are produced by living animal colonies. These structures are made of carbonate material secreted by colonial polyps. In most coral reefs, stony corals are mainly responsible in building the hardy structures, as they secrete an exoskeleton made of calcium carbonate. This forms the main structure of the coral reefs. Apart from the stony corals, coralline algae and some other sponges secrete calcium carbonate and silica respectively. This also makes the structure stronger. Coral reefs are one of the most diverse ecosystems on the earth and shelter around 25% of marine species, like, mollusks, fishes, echinoderms, sponges, etc. Another interesting coral reef information is that these sea structures occupy around 1% of the whole ocean surface on the earth. Let us take a look at some amazing coral reefs information.
Coral Reef Formation
Now, you know the basic coral reef information regarding their formation by the exoskeleton of stony or hard polyps. A type of brown algae called zooxanthellae lives in the tissue of these polyps and help them in secreting calcium carbonate. It is the presence of these algae, that gives the greenish hue to the corals. However, once the corals expels this algae, the coral turn white which may be due to reasons, like, diseases, high temperatures, change in the salinity of water, etc. This is known as coral bleaching, which results in the death of the coral. A coral polyp with hard exoskeleton is often referred to as coral, which can vary in size. A colony of such polyps, along with other organisms form coral reefs. Waves and boring organisms can break down fragments from the corals, but, these fragments also settle down in the spaces within the reef structure. Coral reefs are considered as one of the most diverse ecosystems on the earth, as numerous marine species have shelter in this sea structure. This includes around 4000 species of tropical fish, crustaceans, sponges, turtles, sea snakes, snails, mollusks, etc. There are around 1000 species of corals, that are differently-shaped. Read more on coral reef facts.
Coral Reef Types
Let's take a look at the coral reefs information regarding their types and characteristics. Coral reefs are found in both temperate and tropical waters, but, mostly in the tropics. They are found to develop in shallow and warm tropical waters. There are various types of coral reefs, but, the most important ones are fringing reef, atoll reef and barrier reef. The fringing reefs are mostly found to be attached to the shore and form along the coastline. Barrier reefs grow parallel to the coastline, but, far from the shore. These reefs are separated from the mainland by a lagoon. They are known as barrier reefs, as they form a barrier between the lagoon and the sea. Atoll reefs are like rings of coral reefs that surround lagoons. They are roughly circular and extend through the circumference of the lagoon. There are some other types of coral reefs, like, bank reef, ribbon reef, table reef, patch reef, apron reef, etc.
Another interesting piece of information on coral reef is that while most of the existing coral reefs are found in the tropical waters, around 90% of these sea structures are found in the Indo-Pacific region. While the Great Barrier Reef of Queensland, Australia is the largest one in the world, the second largest is the Belize Barrier Reef of Mexico. The third largest coral reef in the world is the Bahamas Barrier Reef of Andros Island, Bahamas. In short, coral reefs are the most diverse ecosystems in the world and is threatened by various factors, like, human intervention, global warming, etc. Apart from being biologically diverse, coral reefs have economic value, as they are used in making medicines. Most of these sea structures are around 10,000 years old, but is facing deterioration. Now, you have some of the basic coral reef information. If you are interested in gaining some more coral reefs information, you may conduct an in-depth study about these amazing sea structures.