Coral reefs are vibrant, come in various forms and sizes, and it is an iconic sight seen in many of the world's oceans. You've undoubtedly heard of Australia's Great Barrier Reef and the amazing variety of corals that can be found there. Corals, like many other marine biosphere marvels, serve a critical part in the ecology. Although you may barely have seen a coral, it has an unfathomable effect on your life.
1. Coral reefs are home to a quarter of all marine species
Coral reefs make up a little percentage of the ocean or less than 1%. Yet, they are home to about 25% of all marine species on the planet. Coral reefs are home to around 4,000 different kinds of fish.
2. Corals are not plants but for animals
Corals are mistakenly thought to be plants or rocks; however, they are real creatures. Coral comes in both hard and soft types, and they dwell in colonies, which are huge groupings of coral.
3. Coral reefs provide food for half a billion people
Coral reefs feed a variety of fish, which in turn feed people. The fish present on coral reefs is consumed by an estimated 500 million people across the globe.
4. During storms, they serve as a protective barrier
Coral reefs serve a critical role in defending coastal towns from storms and flooding. They serve as a barrier, slowing the flow of water and preventing coastal erosion.
5. Coral reefs purify the water in which they live
Coral reefs cannot survive in murky water. Many corals & sponges graze on particles in the ocean, which results in extremely clean water.
6. They aren't just found in warm waters
Coral reefs have been discovered at temperatures as low as 4°C and depths of 2,000 meters, despite being more usually associated with tropical seas. Unlike their warm-water cousins, deep-sea corals do not depend on photosynthesis to live; instead, they feed exclusively on food particles in the surrounding water.
7. They are one of the world's slowest developing creatures
Corals cover a lot of ground, but it takes a long time to do it. They are among the slowest growing animals on the planet, increasing just one cm in height each year. This implies that a few square kilometers in size would have taken 1 million years to develop a coral reef. A coral's rate of development is influenced by several variables, including nutrition and water quality. While some places have an average growth of 2 centimeters per year, a healthy coral in an area with enough sunshine and no pollution may easily grow above 10 centimeters per year. To give you an idea of how sluggish this is, consider that the Great Barrier Reef spans 350,000 square kilometers.
8. glow in the dark
Shallow-water coral reefs have been observed to glow in the dark. Fluorescent proteins form and serve as sunscreen to protect the fragile environment from the sun's damaging rays, resulting in this eerily beautiful phenomenon.
9. The Algae which grows on coral reefs gives them their color
Coral reefs may eat in two ways: by catching zooplankton that floats along their polyp tentacles or feeding on zooxanthellae. The latter is a symbiotic connection between the polyp and a kind of algae that develops inside corals. Zooxanthellae is photosynthetic organisms that must be exposed to sunlight to survive. They generate nutrients which they share with a polyp in return for protection from the polyp. Because of the existence of chlorophyll, zooxanthellae come in a variety of colors depending on their species. Algae's primary colors are brown and green, but vivid colors emerge due to environmental changes. To serve as a kind of protection, zooxanthellae alter their color over a broad range when the temperature & light conditions vary (against UV rays).
10. Coral reefs flourish in areas where there is a strong current
They thrive mostly in tropical climates, particularly in places with strong currents. Scientists were perplexed by this since most creatures tried to avoid strong currents, which caused them a slew of difficulties. Corals, on the other hand, thrive in these environments. A reasonable and generally accepted hypothesis was proposed based on numerous investigations performed in the 1900s.