Although coral reefs look like a composition of rocks from a cursory glance, they are living organisms; As polyps die, they become hard and result in new polyps growing on top of them, making the reef grow.
As the coral reefs are considered living due to the inhabitation and its composition, it has nutritional requirements. They eat small fishes and algae; as algae need sunlight for photosynthesis, they’re always found near the surface in relatively clean water. At night, coral polyps, one of the major components of corals, come out of their skeletons to feed by stretching their long, stinging tentacles to capture critters that are floating by.
Location and structure
The extremely diverse and fascinating coral reef biome stretches for over 1,200 miles and is located in the Indo-Pacific region, Australia, American and African west coasts. These reefs are made of calcium carbonate skeletons of the corals; corals are small immobile animals closely related to jellyfish.
The largest coral reef biome is found in northern Australia, called the Great Reef barrier and it extends for over 1,200 miles. This reef barrier is said to be visible from space as well.
The most diverse reef is said to be found in Indonesia, with the western water bodies having 85% more diversity.
Climate and its effects
As coral reefs need warm, shallow water to grow in; hence they’re found in the tropics and near the equatorial regions. The temperature in/near these biomes is 75-80. Each region has different water composition and hence, different types of reefs are found in different regions so the reefs in the Indo-pacific region can look different from the reefs on the African west coast. According to experts, the latitude of the coral reef biomes, as well as the movement direction of the water, affects what is able to live there
Scientists have also developed a naming system for the reefs based on how they grow- fringing reefs, they grow attached to the shore; barrier reefs, they’re separated from the shore by a lagoon etc.
Even though the coral reef biome is relatively small, it’s one of the major marine biomes and inhabits 25% of known marine species. Their structure provides numerous holes and crevices for species like crabs, fishes, shrimps etc. The species have adopted the coral reef lifestyle. Many interesting animals have adapted to living in and around the reefs.
Reefs are an important part of the ecosystem, but they’re equally important for humans. They act as a line of defence against strong tropical storms. While at least 400 million people rely on coral reef fisheries for income and food, high-value tourism in many places relies on them to attract visitors to remote parts of the world. Along with economical reasons, they carry medicinal importance as well. They help in medicinal discoveries such as medicines for cancer.
We can conclude by this that even though the reefs are a small part of a major marine ecological system, they carry a lot of importance for both, marine and human aspects, they need to be conserved and protected. Coral reef biomes are fascinating and beautiful at the same time