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Ladies and gentleman.alomost like the seven wonders of the world are the coral gardens of hikkaduwa.In the under water world nothing is as beautiful as this magical park. The Hikkaduwa coral reef is a typical shallow fringing reef with an average depth of around 5 metres.The coral reef reduces the coastal erosion and forms a natural breakwater The Foliaceous Montipora species dominate the coral reef. other corals are contained in the inshore areas of the reef in massive colonies. The Staghorn, elkhorn, cabbage, brain, table and star corals are all present in the reef. Corals of 60 species belonging to 31 genera are recorded from the reef. The reef also recorded over 170 species of reef fish belonging to 76 genera. Seagrass and marine algae are common in the seabed depth. The Seagrasses provide habitat to Dugong and sea turtles. Some species of prawns feed on the seagrass. Eight species of ornamental fish also inhabit the reef, along with crabs, prawns , shrimps, oysters and sea worms. Three types sea turtles which have been categorized threatened visit the coral reef: the hawksbill turtle, green turtle, and the Olive Ridley. Glass bottom boats are in use in nearly every seaside tourist destination. Glass bottom boats are used almost exclusively for giving tours, as they are usually designed to allow the maximum number of tourists to view out the bottom coral bed However many of them are gradually being replaced by semi submarines. Those types of vessels offer a better view of the marine life. The reef has suffered due to both natural and human activities. Despite being a protected area, the coral reef has been subject to constant exploitation including removal of breeding ornamental fish for the commercial market. The live coral cover was decreased from 47 percent to 13 percent in acoral bleaching event in 1998, induced by the 1998 El Niño. It has been suggested that at least 30-40 percent of the coral reef should be restored in order for it to be capable of...
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