Coral reefs are easily one of the fascinating marine creatures of the planet. We don’t know about these creatures, but it leaves us wanting to know more about them as various types of fishes have relied on them for centuries for various reasons.
They make the marine wildlife ecosystem as colorful as possible, and they can be found everywhere around the world. Sadly, coral reef destruction is still a problem up to this day, but more and more people are paving the way for these colorful marine creatures to be preserved and protected. So, if you are interested and want to know more about interesting facts about them, here are the 10 surprising coral reef facts.
10 Surprising Facts About Coral Reefs
Almost 25% of all marine life lives in coral reefs. Although they make only 1% of the ocean, they are home to various types of fish and other marine creatures worldwide. Almost 4,000 types of marine species rely on them for various factors. Here are the interesting coral reefs facts you need to know.
Coral reefs are not plants; they are animals
Coral reefs are often one of the most misunderstood marine creatures on this planet. Although they may look like ocean plants, they’re not. Coral reefs are animals, there are various types of corals, from soft to hard, and together, they form colonies which make them look like they are all pieced into one.
Coral reef formations
There are three types of coral reef formation, namely, coral atolls, barrier reefs, and fringing reefs. Fringing reefs are extensively found in shallow waters, especially along the coastline; whereas coral atolls are often mistaken for an island, fringing reefs are formed from volcanic remains. Barrier reefs help protect coastal waters such as lagoons and various types of shallow waters.
They need sun to grow
Although they live all their lives in water, coral reefs need sunlight to grow. That’s why coral reefs prefer or thrive in shallow coastal waters because sunlight in these areas has great concentration. Coral reefs thrive in shallow waters that don’t exceed depths of up to 70 meters.
However, too much heat might be harmful to these ocean creatures. When coral reefs are exposed to too much sunlight, they expel algae, which in turn causes them to turn white. Algae and coral reefs have a symbiotic relationship.
When coral reefs expel too many algae, it turns them into white – this process is called coral bleaching. Coral bleaching can cause a reef's death, or in most cases, a coral bleach causes reefs to be stressed out, thus, leading to their death.
They grow best with waves and currents
This is perhaps one of the reasons why coral reefs thrive in shallow water. Not only do they get the sunlight they need, but it is also believed that stronger water currents and waves contribute to the overall health of coral reefs. It is believed that when ocean waves and currents are relatively strong, they deliver food to these reefs, which then makes them healthier and thrive even more.
They grow very slow
Coral reefs can only grow for as much as 2 centimeters per year. Furthermore, coral reefs grow best in depths of 70 to 150 feet, and this is because their biomes are highly dependent on ocean temperature. The further they go into the depths of the water, the harder for them to get sunlight, and cold water is experienced more.
Another thing, strangely enough, coral reefs tend to grow abundantly on the eastern side of the landmasses. It is believed that these areas have temperate ocean temperatures and has favorable living conditions compared to that of the western side.
They help stabilize the sea bed
Coral reefs play a pivotal role in stabilizing the sea bed. They help marine life such as seaweeds, seagrass, and other types of marine plants to thrive and survive. Whenever sea plants are abundant in a coastal area, they reduce the storm's impact and help our ocean bed from being washed out. Not only that, but they also serve as a food source for thousands of marine creatures.
Coral reefs provide cleaner water
Whenever you’ve noticed, whenever you get to dive and explore various coral reefs, you get to witness crystal clear waters. And, that is because coral reef systems improve the quality of water around them. They do this by filtering out various things that are floating throughout the ocean. Corals and sponges also feed on some particles all over the ocean, which also leads to clear waters.
They come in many styles
Corals come in various shapes, colors, and sizes. Most of them can be mistaken for deer antlers, giant fans, trees, common land plants, honeycomb, and brains. They are just as colorful as they can be and can be a marvel to witness.
Coral reefs are the best marine destinations
Thanks to their striking and colorful appearance, over a hundred million tourists worldwide get to witness how these creatures are majestic. They drive many people to have jobs, and tourism goes a long way for these marine creatures.
The great barrier reef
The world’s famous Great Barrier Reef is also the largest system of coral reefs in the world. The great barrier reef can be seen from outer space! It stretches for up to 133,000 square miles and comprises 1,050 islands and around 2,900 individual coral reefs; it also stretches up to 1,400 miles long.
Coral reefs are without a doubt one of the reasons why so many disasters were minimized and prevented. Also, they are home to almost thousand species of fishes and some of them are sources of food for humans. There’s no denying the importance of these reef systems on our planet, and we must preserve and protect these works of nature now and for the years to come.
Let’s educate each and everyone on the importance of the coral reef systems and how they help us daily. There will be no shelter for various marine creatures without them, and their destruction could even make something catastrophic.
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