Corals are small marine animals that remain in one place throughout their adult lives. Corals can be very colorful underwater and above. Most coral reef are found in the Mediterranean sea but the largest coral reef is found in the Great Barrier Reef. Some corals resemble the tendrils of plants, others look like leaves. Coral are ancient animals related to Jellyfishes.
An individual coral is known as a polyps. Coral polyps are tiny squishy organisms related to sea anemones and are also translucent animals. They're size relative is to a tea cup. The polyps sting and ingest tiny organisms called plankton and other small creatures . Polyps life span is 2 years to 100´s of years. New polyps live on calcium carbonate exoskeletons of their ancestors. They also eat at night.
Corals are found in tropical waters throughout the world both shallow or deep water they can also live by themselves and their values are estimated to at 30 billion. Corals are first polyps then they convert into reefs they do this by producing asexually or sexually. The nickname for these reefs are the ¨Big Cities of the Sea¨
As centuries pass the coral reefs slowly grow because of this there are hundreds of different types of coral. Fish use reefs as their ecosystems and depend on them, about 25 percent of all known marine species rely on coral reefs for food, shelter, and reproduction. Coral reefs are also imperil to severe threats.
Some threats to corals are global warming, oil, gasoline, sewage, and many more causes. If the coral reef appears white it means there is a pollution problem (like this one in the picture) but coral reefs do help improve the surrounding water quality. Coral Reefs also play an important role in helping to manage carbon monoxide. Scientists have also found that they can many parts of the coral can be harvested into medicine to treat cancer and other diseases.
There are 3 types of coral reefs which are Barrier Reefs, Fringing Reefs, and Atolls. Groups of coral made up of millions of tiny polyps living and dead are called a colony and they form any of the reefs listed. They can also start at the bottom of sunken boats. Fringing reefs can be found along the coastline. Coral Atolls are made up of volcanic remains. Barrier Reefs are found near lagoons. Barrier reefs are extensive linear reef complexes. Some fringing reefs surround the Pacific Islands.
The worlds first coral reef was formed about 500 million years ago. The corals last a very long time because they grow at a rate of 2 cm per year. It can take up to a 10,000 years for a coral to form from tiny polyps. The ultra violet lights help the coral to grow but they do take very long. They also need warm clear water to grow.
Coral Reefs are a big tourist attraction and since they live in shallow water it is easier for the swimmers to go and see. Coral reefs are found in shallow water because they need the sunlight to grow. As corals compete for the sunlight the corals get bigger and bigger. Stony corals and Coralline Red algae also help build the corals. Charles Darwin also proposed the coral reef theory.
Corals are divide up into hard( Scleratinian ) corals and soft corals. The hard corals reef structure is made up of calcium carbonate. While the soft corals are also made up of calcium carbonate but they also contain a protein called Gorgonin. The corals belong to the phylum cnidaria together with anemones, hybrids, and jellyfish.
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