Coral Reefs

"The Rainforest of the Sea"

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What is a Coral Reef?

A coral reef is composed of rocky mounds or ridges formed in the sea by living things through the accumulation and deposition of limestone (calcium carbonate).

Where can Coral Reefs be found?

Coral reefs cover less than 1% of the ocean floor. They can be found in tropical waters throughout the world, generally close to the surface where sun can reach algae. The are located in three oceans of the world, Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans.

The distribution of coral reefs is determined by the ecological requirements of the reef-building corals themselves. Animals that contribute to the formation of coral reefs live in clear, shallow ocean waters. Coral reefs are usually found at a depth of less than 150 feet.

What do Coral Reefs do?

Coral reefs get most of their nutrients from byproducts of photosynthetic algae. They have barbed, venomous tentacles that can grab zooplankton and small fish. They also provide a buffer, protecting our coasts fro waves, storms, and floods. Coral reefs form barriers to protect the shoreline from waves and storms. Coral reefs are also very productive ecosystems, supporting an enormous amount of biodiversity.

Plant and Animal Life

Coral reefs support about 25% of all marine creatures.

Some plants and animals that are located in coral reefs are zooxanthellae, algae, seagrasses, conch, lobster, sea turtles, fish, mollusks, and sponges (to name a few).

Biotic and Abiotic Factors

  1. Biotic

    1. Plants/Animals

      1. living coral polyps

        1. tiny, soft-bodied organisms related to sea anemones and jellyfish

        2. attaches self to rock on sea floor then divides/buds into thousands of clones

          1. creates a colony and over time become reefs

      2. zooxanthellae

    2. Bacteria

      1. decomposer of ecosystem→ break down dead organic matter

  2. Abiotic - (Abiotic factors are non-living factors that influence ecosystems such as temperature, light and available nutrients)

    1. Temperature

      1. thrive in water temp of 77-84℉ (25-29℃)

    2. Sunlight

      1. important for coral reefs because zooxanthellae algae (photosynthesizes) produces food for coral through its byproducts

    3. Nutrients

      1. survive only in clear water w/o much sediment; light can breach surface of water

      2. water low in nutrients

Anthropogenic Impact (Positive and Negative)

  1. Coral reef ecosystems are important for many reasons.

    1. They remove and recycle carbon dioxide, which is a gas that contributes to global warming.

    2. Reefs protect land from harsh weather by absorbing the impact from strong waves and storms.

    3. Reefs provide food, for example, lobster and conch.

    4. Coral reefs are a big source of biodiversity. Without the reef, many of these plants and animals would die.

  2. destruction of coral reefs

    1. estimated loss of 10% of world’s reefs

    2. in the next 50 years, most of the coral reefs on Earth will be gone

      1. human activity→ pollution, sewage, erosion, irresponsible fishing, poor tourism practices, global warming

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Nature Is Speaking – Ian Somerhalder is Coral Reef | Conservation International (CI)

Works Cited

"Coral Reef Facts." And Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2016.

Https://www.facebook.com/DefendersofWildlife/. "Basic Facts About Coral Reefs." Defenders of Wildlife. N.p., 16 Sept. 2014. Web. 13 Oct. 2016.


Society, National Geographic. "Corals, Coral Pictures, Coral Facts - National Geographic." National Geographic. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2016.


ConservationDotOrg. "Nature Is Speaking – Ian Somerhalder Is Coral Reef | Conservation International (CI)." YouTube. YouTube, 27 Oct. 2014. Web. 13 Oct. 2016.


"Coral Reefs." Coral Reefs. National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2016.


Porterfield, Andrew. "Genetics Might Be Able to save the World's Coral Reefs." Genetic Literacy Project. Genetic Literacy Project, 8 Mar. 2016. Web.