Coral Reefs

Topics: Coral, Coral reef, Algae Pages: 5 (1701 words) Published: March 5, 2013
Coral Reefs the Rain Forests of the Sea
    Corals are found all over the ocean but mainly in Southern Asia waters.  Coral reefs are estimated to cover 284,300 km2 just under 0.1% of the oceans' surface area.  The Indo Pacific region including the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia and the Pacific account for 91.9% of this total and the Atlantic and Caribbean coral reefs account for 7.6%.  Although corals exist both in temperate and tropical waters, shallow-water reefs form only in a zone extending from 30° N to 30° S of the equator.  Coral Reefs are becoming endangered. Unfortunately, there are many reasons for coral reefs becoming endangered.  Some reasons being: environmental pollution, as well as human pollution, diseases, and ecological competition that are making it more difficult for coral reefs to survive in the wild.     Corals are particular in regards to their habitat. They need everything they live in to be precise, so when the water temperature changes, it will not put stress on their structure. The optimum temperature for most coral reefs is 79–81 °F, and few reefs exist in waters below 64 °F.  Corals need clear water to grow, they need as much energy light as possible so the sympotic algae Terrrzooxanthellae in there tissue can grow and thrive, as well as photosynthesize.   In order to bring oxygen and nutrients to Corals, they need two things: waves and zooxantellae (90% of nutrients come from this).     There are many different types of corals.  There are two main categories of corals they are hard and soft.  Soft coral got its name because they do not have hard, rigid permanent skeletons, this group is made up of the Gorgonians and the Black Corals. Hard corals are made up of the hydrocorals and the stony corals making them hard and rock like.  Both types of coral have hard skeletons made of calcium carbonate. An example of both corals is the Sea Plumes which is Soft Coral and Brain Corals which are Hard Corals.  

There are two kinds of hydrocorals: fire and lace corals. Fire coral, sometimes called stinging coral, gives you a painful, burning feeling when it touches your bare skin. The sting is not dangerous but the rash can itch for a few days. Lace corals get their name because of their appearance; they produce many branched, hard, calcium carbonate skeletons. In the Caribbean there are three growth patterns: branching, blade and box.  

There are different types of reefs that will grow in different areas and attract different type of fish for the algae. One type of reef is the Fringing Reef this type is directly attached to a shore, or borders it with an intervening shallow channel or lagoon. Another type of reef is the Barrier reef a reef separated from a mainland or island shore by a deep channel or lagoon.  The last reef is the Atoll Reef  this more or less circular or continuous barrier reef extends all the way around a lagoon without an island.     Besides human disturbances coral reefs also have natural disturbances which can be just as bad as human disturbances or even worse. here are some of the natural disturbances. Coral Reefs are sensitive to water quality changes such as increased nutrient content and acidification.  Rising sea surface temperatures will exceed the 1.8 to 5.4 F temperature tolerance experienced by most corals.  It is temperature related stresses which have been most widely reported and are particularly concerning in relation to the climate change.  On any given reef slope the normal range of sea temperatures throughout the year is usually 39 degrees worldwide the temperature is 60-96 degrees F. the reefs have adapted to the narrow temperature range.  

Some corals have to fight with there neighbors to get sunlight which gives them nutrients if corals grow over one anther that may result in death for the coral on the bottom getting the least amount of sunlight.  Fish are also territorial and ready to fight other fish to protect there home and nesting site...
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