Corals are small, marine animals that produce a hard skeleton, limestone. Coral reefs are built by a multitude of marine animals and plants. Many species of coral, live together in a group. Sea animals normally use reefs to live in, or use as a rest stop. A group of coral together is called a colony. An adult coral is called a polyp. A polyp can reproduce with a process called, budding. Whether coral polyps are dead, or alive, they can still be used by the other marine animals. Polyps can attach themselves to hard reef, and live there forever. Polyps have tentacles with small stinging cells called, Nematocysts.
Soft corals like sea fans and sea whips may be apart of coral reefs. The three different types of reefs are fringing reefs, barrier reefs, and atolls. Coral reefs can be many different colors, shapes, and sizes! Fire Corals are known for their vicious sting. The Hexa Corals are stony corals that have smooth tentacles often found in multiples of six. You will mainly find coral reefs in deep waters. There are coral reefs all around the world, but the largest coral reef colony, is called "The Great Barrier Reef". Many people have come to see The Great Barrier Reef and its marvelous coral structure.
Corals have a huge effect on the health of the rest of the world. Coral reefs are very helpful for humans, because reefs also make our medicine. Coral reefs are sometimes considered the medicine cabinets of the 21st century. Coral reef plants and animals are important sources of new medicines being developed to treat cancer, arthritis, human bacterial infections, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, viruses, and other diseases or medical problems.
When corals die, they leave their skeleton for other corals to grow on. Old coral may be 98 feet thick, but only about 3 feet is living coral. Increasingly, coral colonies around the world are being bleached when water temperature rises. Corals expel colorful algal cells which contains the food and nutrients a coral reef needs to survive. Bleaching can ruin an entire coral reef. Bleaching often leads to the death of a coral reef, and can destroy the biodiversity as we know it. Bleaching may destroy the biodiversity, but bleached coral also makes a wonderful home for marine aquatics like worms, and sponges. The consequences of new coral also means that the coral becomes like honeycomb. If bleaching continues, it can create a better environment for worms and sponges.
Corals are related to sea anemones, and they all share the same structure. Coral reefs are built by a multitude of marine animals and plants. Shallow marine waters are rich in calcium. (Ca++) and bicarbonate (HCO3-) ions. Coral reefs are very helpful during an ocean storm, they can help move the ocean away from their habitats, and other fishy habitats near them. Reefs can help prevent things like coastal erosion, flooding, and loss of property on the shore.
Tourism is huge when it comes to visiting coral reefs. No one wants to miss out on the colorful creatures, home to many marine life. Coral reefs generate billions of dollars just from tourism. For residents of coral reef areas who depend on income and tourism, reef destruction creates a huge loss when it comes to employment in tourism.
At least one quarter of all ocean species depend on the reefs. Reefs cover just a tiny fraction of the Earth's surface. Coral reefs are so diverse that they are often called "The Rain forest Of The Sea". Although coral reefs help people, sometimes people pose a great threat towards the colorful creatures. Over fishing and destructive fishing, pollution, warming, and temperature change, are problems humans cause to coral reef. Coral reefs would have a better chance of survival if people did not bleach, or pollute the waters. Deep sea coral colonies have lived more than 4000 years. Corals can live up to seven days after death. Once a coral reef dies, it can no longer provide for marine aquatics that lived in it.