Coral reefs are, without a doubt, one of the most colorful and vibrant parts of our ocean. They also contain some of the most biodiverse marine ecosystems and are home to thousands of marine species on the planet. However, not a lot of people know about their whereabouts. Specifically, where are coral reef founds? Can they be found everywhere? Or in some unique places only?
In this article, we will all be answering the question about where are coral reefs found. This is to help everyone be educated about coral reefs and how important they are to various marine life and humans. So, to learn more about this majestic marine life on earth, read further down below.
What Are Coral Reefs?
Of all the marine ecosystems situated around the world, coral reefs are, without a doubt, the most biodiverse ones. 25% of species in the ocean rely on coral reefs for various reasons such as food, shelter, and a haven away from predators. If you think about it, the statistic is quite remarkable as coral reefs only cover almost 2% of the earth's entire surface. In addition, they are comparable to rainforest inland as they are in the water.
Furthermore, not only are coral reefs important to marine life but to human life as well. It is estimated that coral reefs generate almost 30 billion dollars in revenue that can rise to 175 billion dollars a year. Thus, coral reefs provide money to different niches, from providing food to people, generating income through tourism, and adding protection to our shorelines when typhoons and other disasters strike the land.
Sadly, the biggest threat to our coral reefs is humans. Overfishing, bycatching, oil spills, global warming, altering ocean chemistry, and destructive fish can all be attributed to coral reef loss. In other countries or areas, they are destroyed, and worse, some of them were only a figment of what they once were.
Where Are Coral Reefs Found?
So, where are coral reefs found? Coral reefs are found in various areas around the world. However, there are large concentrations of reefs in areas between the Cancer and Capricorn tropics. In addition, they can be found in all oceans in the world, where warmer water flows far from the equator.
It is estimated that coral reefs in the world cover 284 300 square kilometers. Furthermore, coral reefs are abundant in subtropical and tropical waters, and this is because they sunlight for photosynthesis and prefer warmer temps.
There are also deep water corals that thrive in deep, cold, and dark water, with depths reaching up to 20,000 feet. Two corals are abundant in these regions, both the stony corals and soft corals. In contrast, deep-sea corals don’t have the same algae found in coral reefs in shallow waters. Thus, they don’t need sunlight to thrive, but the thing is, they are quite slow growers and would take some time to mature.
More Information About Coral Reefs
Individual corals are colonial; they thrive off of each other and form colonies, thus, forming coral reefs. The largest coral reef system in the world is the Great Barrier reef which stretches about 2,600km. It is found on the coast of Australia. In fact, due to its horror, it can be seen from space.
One of the reasons why reefs form is because of corals growing in shallow waters or small islands. Almost all coral reefs are called fringe reefs because they are mainly found in fringes along the coastline. It takes a considerable amount of time for corals to grow and become a reef because corals grow only a few centimeters a year. One of the fastest-growing corals can grow as much as six centimeters per year.
Coral reefs also grow quite slowly because when coral dies, they disintegrate into much smaller pieces and become compacted. However, coral colonies can thrive in the water for decades and even thousands of years for deep-sea colonies.
Threats To Coral Reefs
One of the greatest threats to our coral reefs from around the world is the rise in temperature and ocean acidification. When coral reefs experience an increase in temperature, they undergo stress in which they expel out food algae or zooxanthellae, which is their primary source of food. This phenomenon is called coral bleaching. When coral bleaching happens more often, they are susceptible to various threats and even death.
On the other hand, ocean acidification is the increase in acidity in our ocean waters. As a result, corals and other marine life that relies on calcium carbonate to make shells or skeletons will take a considerable amount of time before they make one. When ocean acidification goes for an extended period, it may break existing skeletons that are also the foundation of each coral in a reef system.
Protecting Our Coral Reefs
By making sure that a fish community is healthily established and there is clean water. Those well-protected reefs today have significantly healthier fish populations and are quite resilient when it comes to the ability to recover once disasters struck such as typhoons and hurricanes.
Small schools of fishes are detrimental to a coral reef's life; fishes that mainly feed on seaweeds are important as they keep these seaweeds from smothering the corals and stunting their growth. Meanwhile, other types of fish are also important as food for coral predators, such as the crown of thorns starfish.
Learning where coral reefs are found gives us the idea that somewhere near our coastline lies a healthy living coral reef on which we can set our eyes to protect. But, remember, we humans are the major threats to their survival, and as long as we do the things that make them susceptible to various threats, there’s no place to go for this marine life but down.
As long as we do the right thing and pave the way for humans to counteract what they are already doing, then it would lead us to the right path for these diverse marine ecosystems to thrive and flourish for thousands of years to come.
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