Reef Talk

Coral Reef Information

Coral reefs are beautiful formations of corals, fish, and many other animals that live in a marine environment. Coral reefs are formed from the limestone structure left at the death of coral polyps, which supports the life of the living coral and other living animals.

There are two main types of corals: hard corals, and soft corals. Hard corals are those made of calcium carbonate, which form the structure of the reef. Their skeletons are formed by receiving their energy from symbiotic algae. Soft corals are not able to build reefs as they do not produce a high enough amount of calcium carbonate.

Coral reefs are located in locations where the climate is temperate or tropical in shallow, warm waters. Such locations are the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia, and many throughout the Pacific Ocean.

Coral reefs are extremely important due to their quantity and diversity of living species, with over 25% of marine life living in coral reefs. Their ecosystem plays a large part in the protection of coastlines from many issues, such as wave erosion. Yet, the number of coral reef coverage in the ocean is quickly declining.

There are 8 different formations in which coral reefs exist, which are: fringing reefs, barrier reefs (e.g. Great Barrier Reef), bank reefs, ribbon reefs, patch reefs, table reefs, atoll reefs, and apron reefs.

Coral Reef Facts

  • The Great Barrier Reef, located in Queensland, North-East Australia, is the largest coral reef formation in the world, covering almost 350,000 square kilometers, and created of almost 3,000 smaller reefs. The Great Barrier Reef was formed 500,000 years ago.
  • The most coral reefs are located in the Pacific Ocean region.
  • The first coral reef was formed over 500 million years ago, making them one of the oldest ecosystems to exist.
  • Coral reefs are a source of food, medicine, and income for thousands and thousands of people.
  • Coral reefs play a major role in the protection of coastlines from harmful erosion.
  • Coral bleaching and water pollution are harming and destroying coral reefs at an alarming rate. A slight change in temperature can induce an extremely large amount of shock and stress of the living organisms, mainly coral, in coral reefs, and kill the corals.
  • Coral polyps are related directly to jellyfish and anemones.

There is no doubt that coral reefs are in great danger of being destroyed. If you did not know, a large amount of the worlds coral reefs have already been destroyed in a few different ways, from coral reef bleaching to physically killing them in practices such as fishing with explosives. The ever rising temperatures also have a very negative effect on coral reefsthroughout the world.

Coral reef bleaching is basically when the corals lose their color, which is seen when they begin to turn white. It occurs when acoral becomes under stress, and is very dangerous as it means that they are doing enough photosynthesis. This loss of color is due to a loss of Zooxanthellae.

Exploding coral reefs for purposes such as fishing has the same devastating effect. Many coral reefs are instantly killed in this process, making them very vulnerable to these sorts of behavior.Coral reefs will also start bleaching when the temperature becomes too hot or the water becomes too salty, as it places large amounts of stress on the corals.

If after reading this you feel that you should help protect Coral Reefs from all of their dangers, head over to ReefRelief.org or the Coral Reef Alliance page and join the cause. Hopefully your contribution will help to save many more coral reefs from the same devastating fate that many others have already had.

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