It may surprise many people to know that coral reefs are responsible for producing more than 90% of the oxygen in the Earth’s oceans and seas. This is made possible because corals draw on an incredible amount of sunlight to help synthesize energy from light and photosynthesis. On average, a coral reef will get about six hours of daylight each day. This makes it one of the most productive ecosystems on earth, with its high productivity levels allowing for a wide variety of seafood species. The following coral reef food chain facts should be helpful to you if you decide to visit the marine ecosystem up close.
Corals Rely On Different Types Of Algae
Because corals need so much light, food chain dynamics tell us that they must filter out nutrients and spend a lot of energy filtering out waste. As such, corals rely on a variety of algae for the energy they need to thrive and reproduce. However, algae can become unhealthy or even toxic to corals if it becomes too great for them to handle. For this reason, corals will often pull toxic algae from its environment to prevent it from poisoning their reefs.
Many coral reefs have suffered major environmental damage over the years. Extensive drilling and other forms of human activity have led to major pollution in the world’s oceans. Many scientists feel that coral reefs are uniquely vulnerable to climate change, making them particularly important to protect. As such, coral reefs are now being protected by various governmental and non-governmental organizations. One such agency is the US National Park Service. They work with landowners and companies to promote responsible tourism practices, preventing unnecessary destruction of coral reefs.
Another aspect of the food chain involves marine life. Plants and animals that live at the base of the coral where coral grows are referred to as the coral reef’s primary food supply. As such, these creatures provide the coral with a number of essential nutrients, including oxygen.
In the food chain, there are also another five stages: predator, prey, intermediate, predators again, and intermediate meat eaters. The fish that make up the final part of the food chain are known as cormorants. They are the ones eating the corals, as well as other organisms in the water such as fishes and snails. Cormorants may be eaten by bathers or dolphins if they are allowed to freely enter the water. The smallest cormorant, the featherback coralline, can only be eaten by its larvae.
Some coral reefs are surrounded by oceans of calcium carbonate called black coral reefs. These corals are considered by scientists to be a form of prehistoric coral reef. Unlike the coral reef, black coral reefs are not supported by any underlying underwater structure and are instead supported primarily by light filtering coral cells. The lack of a solid surface makes it easy for photosynthesis to occur. This allows the corals to grow rapidly and take in nutrients from the water around it.
Humans should also stop harvesting coral reefs for their own protection. Although coral reefs provide an important source of food and oxygen, harvesting them for economic gain can be devastating. Overharvesting coral reefs occurs when a country’s fisheries catches more than what the coral reefs can provide. For example, overharvesting coral reefs in Barbados led to massive die-off of certain species of corals. Scientists agree that reducing the amount of harvesting done by humans will help slow down the rate at which coral reefs disappear from the planet.