Coral Reefs

Coral Reefs
A coral reef is an underwater ecosystem. They are the largest animal-made structures in the world. Coral reefs occur in mainly nutrient-deficient waters in tropical regions, which have warm waters of about 18-30?C. A coral is a living organism because it consumes food, excretes, breathes and reproduces. The coral has a white skeleton made up of limestone rock, which also helps to keep it rigid. Reef-building corals are brightly coloured organisms built by small animals called coral polyps. The polyp has stinging tentacles that beat backwards and forwards and hairs called triggers that help to catch the coral?s food, chiefly phytoplankton (small food-producing plankton)The coral shares a symbiotic relation with algae or zooxanthellae, tiny microscopic plants, which perform photosynthesis with the help of the sun?s energy. These algae provide the polyp with necessary nutrients and energy components. A symbiotic relation between the algae and the coral polyps mean that one depends on the other and cannot survive alone. Just as forests and jungles protect us from the various elements of the environment such as wind and rain, the reef fish use the coral reef for protection of their young and food sources. Human Impact Pollution from various human sources disturbs the clarity of the water and causes it to turn cloudy, so sunlight cannot enter and the algae cannot photosynthesise. Coral is very delicate as far as temperature is concerned. So, the warming of global seas affects them. When the temperatures get relatively high, coral starts sweating and some of the algae slowly die. When the temperature gets too much high, corals expel the algae and no energy is left in it. El Nino, a weather phenomenon, caused some sea temperatures to rise so much as 5?. Many corals bleached and became white and died because their algae were expelled. When corals die, the reef fish expand and move away because their habitat has been destroyed. Humans have also contributed some good things to the coral reef ecosystem. Excavating a channel away from the main sea, although affecting the coral reefs, have also allowed us to explore the shallow water. Eco-tourism is trying to be diverted to other forms of beach tourism and highly vulnerable areas have been completely sealed off by authorities. Jeddah Port has ?Pollution Control? motorboats, which clean up an oil layer, which maybe dropped by a vessel. Some divers and snorkellers have done more good than bad. Exploration of the coral reef ecosystem sometimes helps in conservation. But, lost snorkelling or diving equipment can strangle reefs. Toilet effluent and dumping of factory pollution and rubbish highly pollutes the sea. Jet ski?s and speedboats can cut off corals. Sediment from construction sites also falls into the sea and affects the ecosystem. some interesting statistics: Less than 1% of the sea surface is coral. 30% of this coral is already dead. The Red Sea is 3,400 metres deep and the water comes from the Indian Ocean. Evaporation causes salt water and fresh water to mix but the salt does not evaporate. 40% of the water is salt, so lots of heat can be absorbed. In the middle of the ocean, there is no pollution. Sharks are the apex predators.

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