A coral reef is one of the most beautiful structures found in the ocean of the world. A coral reef is formed in the sea by living things. Corals are a variety of colors due to natural pigments. They can be white, red, pink, green, blue, orange and purple. Reef-building corals are types of animals that act like plants. They stay in one place and like plants, receive some of their energy from the sun. A type of microscopic algae lives inside the coral and provides them with food and help allow the coral reefs to grow faster.
The majority of coral reefs can be found in clear, tropical oceans, and form in shallow water or in water about 150 feet below the surface because of their need of light to survive. There are three types of coral reefs: fringing reefs, barrier reefs, and atolls.
Fringing reefs are along the coastal shorelines of continents and islands. They can be found in Hawaii and the Caribbean. Barrier reefs are offshore, and are also found in the Caribbean, but are also located in the Indo-Pacific. Atolls are also found in the Indo-Pacific and are a series of shallow coral islands which surround a lagoon. The largest coral reef in the world is in Australia, which is called the Great Barrier Reef. It is over 1200 miles.
The habitat of a coral reef includes water that is between 68 and 82Â°F and located usually along the eastern shores of land. Ocean waves bring in food, nutrients, and oxygen to the reef, which is essential for the coral reef's survival. The waves also prevent sediment from settling on the reef. In addition, the calcium from the water is needed, which is usually available in shallow warm waters.
The plants of the coral reefs grow through the process of photosynthesis converting the sunlight into energy. Just like on dry land, the animals of the coral reefs eat the plants to get their energy, as in a food chain. Algae, seagrasses and zooxanthellae are the main types of plants in the coral reef. The plants provide the animals food and oxygen. The seagrasses, too, provide shelter for immature reef animals like conch and lobster.
Coral reefs make up one percent of the ocean floor but is home to 25% of life in the ocean. Animals either begin their life and reside in coral reefs, or the reef serves as a type of rest stop for animals as they travel through the seas. The corals themselves, made up of tiny organisms called polyps, are the most plentiful animal on the reef. They are attached to the hard reefs and live there forever. Other animals that live on the coral reef are sponges, sea urchins, octopus, snails, worms, sharks, lobster, and many more. The animals live together and work as a team to survive.
Coral reefs are helpful to the planet as well. They remove and recycle carbon dioxide from the air which can contribute to global warming. Reefs also protect the land from the impact of strong waves during harsh weather. Unfortunately, pollution, irresponsible fishing, and sewage, among others, is responsible for the destruction of many coral reefs by humans.
In summary, coral reefs are beautiful structures of living plants and animals located throughout the seas of the world. The are found on shorelines, off-shore, and can form islands called atolls.