A coral reef is a community of living organisms and is one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. It is made up of different fish, plant life and all kinds of other creatures. One of the species that occupies a coral reef ecosystem is the Gurtle. The Gurtle lives in Australia by the Great Barrier Reef. It lives off of seagrass and algae and its main predator is the Aquatic Wolf Dragon that also lives in the coral reef ecosystem. The average adult Gurlte is approximately four feet long from head to tail. Like most other fish and turtles the Gurtle is Oviparous, meaning that they lay eggs. A female Gurtle can lay up to 12 egss at a time. The Gurtle spends most of its life in the water and only emerges to lay its eggs in the sand. They are only required to come up for air every ten hours.
Coral Reefs are often referred to as the rainforests of the sea. Reefs grow best in sunny, shallow, clear water so that they can get plenty of sunlight to grow. The Great Barrier Reef where the Gurtle lives is 93.2 miles wide and 1,242 miles long! They rarely grow deeper than 40 miles. The temperature ranges from approximately 25 to 31 degrees Celsius and the salinity is between 34 and 37 parts per 1000.
Although the coral reef is considered one of the most diverse ecosystems in the wold, you will be surprised to know that there are only three types of plants that grow in this ecosystem. The most commonly know of the three plants is Algae. Marine algae are tiny plants that do not contain roots, stems or true leaves. They provide a source of food for smaller fish and sea life such as the Gurtle. They also act as a glue that helps the coral reef to grow larger. The Great Barrier Reef where the Gurtle lives includes 500 species of marine algae such as blue-green algae, red algae & green algae. Sea lettuce and sea grapes are common types of green algae that provides the Gurtle with much of its nutrients. The second form of plant life found in the coral reef is seagrass. They appear in underwater meadows that grow between the coral reef and the shore. The grasses play an important role in supporting the sea life that live in the coral reef by providing food and habitat. The last plant that is found in the coral reef ecosystem is the Mangroves. Mangrove forests consist of large shrubs that grow along the shores of the reef. The roots of the Mangrove trees act as a nursery for young reef fishes and other sea life such as the Gurtle.
The Great Barrier Reef is home to the most diverse population of creatures in the world. Along with the Gurtle there are also 6 other species of marine turtles, about 1,500 species of marine fish, 30 species of whales and dolphins, 360 species of hard corals, between 5000 and 8000 species of molluscs, 600 species of echinoderms, 17 species of sea snakes, 1500 species of sponges, and 22 species of seabirds. An example of a marine fish living in the reef is the Hat Fish. The Hat Fish gets its name from the hat shaped crest on its head. It is rainbow colored and can grow up to two feet in length. One of the most interesting species of whales in the reef is the Zebra Whale. It has black and white stripes resembling that of a land Zebra and can grow to be the size of a school bus. The most dangerous sea snake in the reef is the Aquatic Wolf Dragon which feeds on baby Gurtles. The most common species of seabird in the reef is the Submarine Pelican. This fascinating seabird can dive down 20 feet into the reef and snatch up small fish and other reef creatures. However, the Submarine Pelican is not a predator of the Gurtle because it is not able to bite through its hard protective shell.