6 in 60: Number 38 – Coral Reefs

Coral Reefs have to be one of the must stunning habitats on this planet, one minute to admire them and learn something more. Let’s go:

  1. reef composed mainly of coral and other organic matter of which parts have solidified into limestone.
  2. Approximately 500 million people worldwide depend upon reefs for food and to protect coastlines from storms and erosion.
  3. Coral reefs provide habitat, spawning and nursery grounds for economically important fish species; provide fishing, recreation, and tourism jobs  and income to local economies; are a source of new medicines, and are hotspots of marine biodiversity.
  4. A 1000km long coral reef has been discovered recently at the mouth of the Amazon river. The reef consists mainly of sponges and rhodoliths, red algae that deposit calcium carbonate in their cell walls. Unlike coral, rhodoliths can thrive in low light.
  5. Warmer ocean temperatures caused by El Niño (a weather pattern in the pacific ocean) and global warming can lead to coral bleaching.
  6. Corals have multiple reproductive strategies – they can be male or female or both, and can reproduce either asexually or sexually. Asexual reproduction is important for increasing the size of the colony, and sexual reproduction increases genetic diversity and starts new colonies that can be far from the parents.

That’s all for now but might have to write up more on the wonders of coral reefs. After all the more we learn about them perhaps the more people will want to protect them. Happy Biologying guys!

Sources

The first is just a straight definition from the dictionary. Facts 2,3 and 5 come from the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Fact 4 comes from the new scientist article. Fact 6 comes from the ocean portal at the Smithsonian, got loads of stuff there about coral reefs if you wanted to know more!

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ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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