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Coral reefs are often referred to as the rainforests of the oceans because they are so biodiverse.
Coral reefs are warm, clear, shallow ocean habitats that are rich in life.
The reef's massive structure is formed from coral polyps, tiny animals that live in colonies; when coral polyps die, they leave behind a hard, stony, branching structure made of limestone.
The coral provides shelter for many animals in this complex habitat, including sponges, fish (e.g. blacktip reef sharks, groupers, clown fish, eels, parrotfish, snapper, and scorpion fish), jellyfish, anemones, sea stars, crustaceans (like crabs, shrimp, and lobsters), turtles, sea snakes, snails, and mollusks (like octopuses and clams). Birds also feast on coral reef animals.
Coral reefs develop in shallow, warm water, usually near land, and mostly in the tropics; coral prefer temperatures between 24-26 °C and depths not exceeding 25 metres so that light can penetrate. The water must also be clear and free from sediment.
There are coral reefs off the eastern coast of Africa, off the southern coast of India, in the Red Sea, and off the coasts of northeast and northwest Australia and on to Polynesia.
There are also coral reefs off the coast of Florida, the Caribbean and Brazil.
Coral Reefs are amazingly bio-diverse - They have an enormous range of species of flora and fauna
Coral polyps live on and in the limestone structures that make up the reef
Fish off all kinds live from the nutrient rich seas in and around the corals
It a scuba divers paradise – but the corals are extremely delicate and may be easily damaged
What amazing colours!
If the corals are damaged they die, nutrients decay and fish disappear
The coral reefs are second to the tropical rainforests for the richness and variety of life
But as said the corals are very delicate – one scuba divers foot on the coral and several square metres of coral die!
CEBU (Philippines) - part of the Coral Triangle Threats arising from human action
Trampling by tourists - unintentional but still destroys large areas of coral
Cyanide & dynamite fishing that destroy the reef
Overfishing that reduce biodiversity
Sun lotions that contaminate the corals
Fertilizer leakage from farmland that contaminates the corals
Clearing reefs for port installations
Sale of corals for the aquarium trade
Use of the limestone (the superstructure of the reef) for building etc
Global warming due to excessive discharge of greenhouse gasses (carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides, etc) that will ‘bleach’ the coral reef as the polyps die
Managing coral reefs
Policing protected areas
Action on global warming
Quotas fixed for fishing
THESE ACTIONS DECIDED WITHIN A PARTNERSHIP OF THE DIFFERENT COUNTRIES MAKING UP THE CORAL TRIANGLE
HOMEWORK Research the recent oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico What caused the spill? What is likely to be the long term impact of this disaster? What is the response? What are the difficulties dealing with the problem?