Coral Reefs Unveiled
Coral reefs are diverse underwater ecosystems held together by calcium carbonate structures secreted by corals. They are sometimes referred to as the 'rainforests of the sea' for their astounding biodiversity.
Architects: Coral Polyps
Corals are made up of tiny, communal organisms called polyps. They collaborate to build the extensive limestone exoskeletons that form reef structures, which provide shelter for countless marine species.
Corals have a symbiotic relationship with algae called zooxanthellae. The algae provide corals with nutrients through photosynthesis and in turn, receive protection and access to sunlight.
Reefs' Global Importance
Coral reefs protect coastlines from storms and erosion, host a quarter of all marine life, and support fishing industries and tourism, contributing billions to the global economy.
Threats to Reefs
Coral reefs face numerous threats including climate change, ocean acidification, overfishing, destructive fishing methods, and pollution. These factors cause coral bleaching and can lead to reef death.
Coral Bleaching Crisis
Coral bleaching occurs when corals, stressed by changes such as increased water temperature, expel the algae living within them, leading to a loss of color and, potentially, coral mortality.
Efforts to protect and restore coral reefs include establishing marine protected areas, reducing carbon footprint to mitigate climate change, and developing coral farming and reef restoration techniques.