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Do Coral Reefs have life in them

October 25th, 2008

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world. It is made of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for 2,600 kilometers over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometers.  The Coral Reef system is located in Northeast coast of Australia. The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space and is the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms. Source: Wikipedia.org

Coral reefs are actually limestone formation of exoskeletons secreted by tiny invertebrates called stony corals. The reefs are often mistaken to be rocks and plants. Mostly found in the shallow tropical waters, coral reefs are the most endangered ecosystem in the world.

Coral reefs exist in oceanic areas with less or no nutrients. Nutrition rich water causes algae formation that threatens the coral reef existence. Coral reefs support extraordinary biodiversity by being the home for thousands of animal and plants species. Coral reefs are structures that facilitate lot of aquatic organisms to procreate and flourish. They provide the necessary food and supplements for stony corals and other aquatic animals to survive by supporting their needs of nutrition in no or less nutrition waters. Coral reefs get their supply of dead plant and animals from sea grass and mangroves common in the tropical areas. Dead plant and animals supply nitrogen, wood and vegetation for the animals and fish in the coral reef. Coral Reefs do their bit in ecological conservation by protecting the sea grass and mangroves from powerful waves and provide sand to root them.

Coral reef population in the oceans is threatened by natural and man made activities. Temperature rise, Oceanic acidity, Dust outbreaks have contributed their bit into making the ecosystem vulnerable. Rise in the sea temperature as in El-Niño caused coral reefs death. Consistent rise in sea temperature causes bleaching of the corals and rare occasions saw the revival of the color and life in them. Optimal level of Ph supports saturated carbonate ions that maintain the coral reefs to maintain their structure and stability. Decrease in the Ph levels in the ocean reduces the level of carbonate ions increasing the possibility of the coral reefs to dissolve.

Coral reefs are threatened by man made threats through pollution by chemicals of effluents, sedimentation of inorganic salts etc. Dynamite fishing, Coral extraction and coast development have also started affecting the coral reef population. Most of the coral reefs are under threat from human related activities.

Study reveals that most of the reefs building corals are listed under threatened category as endangered, vulnerable and critically endangered and near threatened categories leading to coral reefs becoming the most endangered ecosystem in the world today.

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