Coral reefs are one of the most diverse ecosystems on our planet and provide critical habitats for many species of marine life, including corals themselves. Approximately 25% of the ocean’s fish depend on healthy coral reefs. There are over 1900 different types of coral, making it one of the most diverse groups in the animal kingdom. These animals build their homes out of calcium carbonate (limestone). This limestone provides a rigid structure that protects them from predators while providing shelter for many other species. Additionally, healthy coral reefs aren’t just vital for a healthy ocean ecosystem. Still, humans do benefit through being able to sustain subsistence and commercial fisheries, and they ensure the longevity of businesses and jobs through recreation and tourism.
Coral reefs are home to a fantastic diversity of marine animals.
Coral reefs are home to a fantastic diversity of marine animals. A single coral reef can have more than 4,000 species of fish and other sea creatures. For example, in Seychelles, there are more than 1000 saltwater fish species, plus 300 various types of coral. More so, coral reefs like those in the archipelago islands of Seychelles offer habit for more than 1000 types of saltwater fish species and 300 different types of coral. Furthermore, these coral reefs are also home to the highly endangered green and hawksbill turtles. Additionally, these areas become the feeding grounds for other sea creatures, such as the enormous whale sharks and manta rays.
More so, endangered species such as the green and hawksbill turtles rely on coral reefs for survival. For instance, 90% of sea turtles spend time at a coral reef during their life span; many species lay their eggs there or feed off the algae that grow on its surface. Coral reefs also provide shelters for small animals such as octopuses and shrimp—and these little guys are usually eaten by larger predators like sharks when they venture into open water!
Many species of coral reefs are only found in a few global places
Coral reefs are found in warm, shallow waters. They are only found in the tropics and subtropics of the western and central Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea. These areas are known as coral reef provinces.
These provinces share similar characteristics:
They have clear, shallow water that is usually less than 100 feet deep
The water temperature stays between 68°F and 86°F year-round
They have strong sunlight that reaches depths of up to 50 feet (15 meters)
A misconception is that corals are rocks or plants; however, they are animals. Corals are cousins of sea animals, such as sea anemones and jellyfish. More so, you can find challenging and soft varieties of coral that live together in large groups called colonies. Some of these colonies are visible from space.
Corals are house-building marine animals.
Corals are invertebrates, meaning they lack backbones. Also, coral is sessile, meaning it cannot move around independently. Also, as mentioned before, corals form colonies and have a soft tissue composition that can allow them to change colours in response to environmental conditions.
Corals are closely related to sea anemones and jellyfish but belong to a separate group called hexacorals (which also includes sea fans and gorgonians). These cold-blooded animals are filter feeders; they take in water through tiny holes on the sides of their bodies known as mouths or polyps, then strain out food particles with stinging cells known as cnidocytes (cells containing stinging capsules) located inside their tentacles. The remaining water is expelled from the same opening, where it enters via flagella (microscopic hair-like appendages).
Corals are one of the most fragile ecosystems on the planet and suffer from pollution, overfishing, and climate change.
Coral reefs have been building up in the warm, shallow waters of the world’s oceans for more than 500 million years. These coral reefs are also some of the oldest ecosystems on earth and provide a home to nearly one-quarter of all marine species. However, corals are one of the most fragile ecosystems on the planet and suffer from pollution, overfishing, and climate change.
Climate change has led to global warming, which has caused ocean temperatures to rise significantly worldwide over the last century. The water temperature must be between 28-32 degrees Celsius for corals to thrive. Still, it is predicted that by 2050 global warming will cause a 2-degree Celsius increase in ocean temperatures with many more devastating effects, including bleaching (when coral loses its color).
Coral reefs also suffer from overfishing which occurs when people take away fish or other animals from an ecosystem without replacing them so that there are not enough organisms for other animals to feed off of (such as sharks). If there aren’t enough organisms in an ecosystem, then all species suffer because they cannot survive off each other anymore!
The impact of coral bleaching
When a coral reef is damaged, it is less able to support the variety of sea creatures that inhabit them and the nearby communities. Once a coral reef supports a smaller number of plants, fish, and animals, it loses its significance as a tourist destination. Seychelles has also been impacted by global warming, losing nearly 90% of its coral reefs in 1998 through to bleaching. Another bleaching event happened in 2016, but some reefs recovered. What the scientist found was that some coral was more resistant than others. As such, a vital project was led to re-introducing these super-coral to areas impacted by bleaching. So, the goal Seychelles has is to speed up the re-introduction of coral to the area through the use of coral farming.
Long story short
Coral reefs provide essential habitats for a wide variety of marine life in some of the most vulnerable parts of the world. However, coral reefs are also one of the most fragile ecosystems, so we must take care of them. These corals are found in tropical waters and provide food and shelter for many different species of fish, whales, dolphins, and other marine animals. One of the unique features of coral reefs is that they provide a safe place for baby sea turtles to hatch from their eggs. These reefs also provide homes to thousands of plants and animals that would otherwise not have any protection from predators or other dangers. This balance between predator and prey keeps these ecosystems thriving so well! Coral reefs offer essential habitats for our oceans and are home to thousands of species that would not be able to survive without them. Without these habitats, many marine animals would not be able to survive or thrive in their natural environments. With global warming threatening coral reefs worldwide with extinction sooner than later, we need to do everything possible before it’s too late!