Coral reefs are one of the fascinating life forms on Earth. These vibrant ecosystems are found around the globe, but many are at risk due to several easily avoided issues. Below are ten cool facts about coral reefs and easy steps to ensure they continue to thrive.
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FACTS ABOUT CORAL REEFS
Coral reefs are home to 25% of all marine species.
Although coral reefs only make up a small fraction of the ocean, less than 1%, they are home to 25% of its marine life. Coral reefs are home to over 4,000 species of fish!
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Corals are not plants; they’re animals.
Common misconceptions about corals include thinking they are rocks or plants. However, they are animals. Corals come in both hard and soft varieties, often found together in large groups known as colonies.
Half a million people depend on coral reefs as food.
Coral reefs are food sources for many fish, which provide food for humans. Around 500 million people eat fish from coral reefs each year.
For coral reefs to thrive, they need sunlight.
Coral reefs thrive in clear and shallow waters. They can grow at depths of 70 meters or less where the sun can reach.
But too much heat can prove to be dangerous.
Algae and corals have a symbiotic relationship. However, when the ocean becomes too warm, corals can expel algae, which causes them to turn white. This is known as bleaching. In desperate attempts to survive rising ocean temperatures, some corals have been found to emit vivid colors. This phenomenon has led to the Glowing global campaign.
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They are a barrier in storms.
The coral reefs are an important part of coastal communities’ protection from flooding and storms. They act as a buffer, slowing down water flow and preventing coastal erosion.
Coral reefs purify the water they are in
Coral reefs won’t live in murky waters! Corals and sponges rely on the ocean for their food, making the water extremely clear.
They are a major driver of tourism.
Pre-COVID-19, coral reefs were visited by around 71 million tourists annually. This tourism is vital to local economies, especially in less-known destinations that rely on international tourists.
Coral reefs date back around a 240million years.
It has been proven that coral reefs formed as many as 240,000,000 years ago. Although coral reefs are averaging between 5,000 and 10,000 years old today, some corals may only survive for a few years.
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They don’t live in warm water.
While more often associated with tropical waters, coral reefs can be found at temperatures as low as 4oC and depths as high as 2,000m. Deep-sea corals do not rely on photosynthesis to survive as their warm-water counterparts. Instead, they eat only food particles in the water.