Coral Reefs

Topics: Coral reef, Coral, Algae Pages: 7 (2040 words) Published: January 17, 2014
Topic :Coral Reefs
Grade 10
subject: Geography

Table of Contexts

What is a Coral Reef?

Where are they located?

Types of coral reefs

Other types of coral reefs

Man’s impact on the coral reef

Rehabilitation of Coral Reefs


What is a Coral reef?

Coral reefs are underwater structures made from calcium carbonate secreted by corals. Coral reefs are colonies of tiny animals found in marine waters that contain few nutrients. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, which in turn consist of polyps that cluster in groups. Most coral reefs were formed after the last glacial period when melting ice caused the sea level to rise and flood the continental shelves.

Where are they located?

Coral reefs normally live in tropical regions (these regions include the tropical Pacific, tropical western Atlantic (Caribbean), and the Indian Ocean (including the Red Sea).  Some reefs live in places that are cool, but never cold areas.  One very popular reef is the Great Barrier Reef.  It is off the northern coast of Australia.  This reef grows in waters ranging from about 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit.  There are also coral reefs in Mexico, Cuba, Florida, California, Hawaii, and Japan.  A reef cannot withstand temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit because the fish cannot live there. It's like a food chain.  

Types of coral reefs
The three main types of coral reefs are:
(1) Atoll – this is a roughly circular (annular) oceanic reef system surrounding a central lagoon

(2) Fringing Reef - a reef system that grows fairly close to (or directly from) the shore, with an entirely shallow lagoon or an intervening shallow channel.

(3) Barrier Reef – is a reef system that parallels the shore and is separated from it by a wide lagoon that is very deep.
Other reefs include

Patch reef – this type is an isolated, comparatively small reef outcrop, usually within a lagoon or embayment, often circular and surrounded by sand or sea grass. Patch reefs are common. Apron reef – a short reef resembling a fringing reef, but more sloped; extending out and downward from a point or peninsular shore Bank reef – a linear or semicircular shaped-outline, larger than a patch reef Ribbon reef – a long, narrow, possibly winding reef, usually associated with an atoll lagoon Table reef – an isolated reef, approaching an atoll type, but without a lagoon Habili – this is a reef in the Red Sea that does not reach the surface near enough to cause visible surf, although it may be a hazard to ships

Man’s impact on the coral reef

Reefs are suffering directly and indirectly from the increasing pressure of mans' resource exploitation. Overfishing is one driving pressure that has had devastating impacts on coral reefs. Aggressive fishing methods have hurt coral reefs sometimes beyond repair. However, over-fishing in general is also a damaging problem to many coral reefs around the world. Specifically to the Great Barrier Reef, overfishing has caused a shift in the reef ecosystem. Overfishing of certain species near coral reefs can easily affect the reef's ecological balance and biodiversity.

Another significant impact humans have had on the coral reef ecosystems is its pollution problem. There are numerous ways humans have added harmful pollutants into our oceans that can cause serious damage to the fragile ecosystems of the coral reefs. Deforestation, although not directly involved in coral reef destruction, has many indirect effects that cause many issues. Sediment runoff will bring with it many natural and toxic components that can cause harm to the coral ecosystems. There is also sedimentation buildup that occurs at the mouth of the rivers that lead into the oceans. Another major pollutant is runoff from mining and farming where the minerals get into rivers that flow into the ocean. Farming has...
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