Posts Tagged ‘Atlantic Ocean’
The “rainforests” of the ocean, coral reefs are important ecosystems with high biodiveristy that makes it a great source of genetic materials. Not only are they filled with food and medicine resources, but they also protect coastlines from wave erosion.
Many animals make up parts of the coral reef. In fact, corals are animals related to jellyfish and anemones. Solitary and colonial coral feed on plankton, which are microscopic plants and animals, using arm-like tentacles to bring food to the centrally located mouth. Hard corals also host algae with which it forms a symbiotic relationship. Because of algae’s photosynthentic properties, it can provide an additional food source to the coral. Corals secrete hard, calcareous (aragonite) exoskeletons, which provide structural rigidity. The shapes colonial coral can form range from finger-shaped, brancing, or moundshaped structures that can span tens to hundreds of miles.
While coral can be found in many of the world’s oceans, the reef-forming variety can only be found in shallow, clean, tropical waters between the latitudes of the 30° north and 30° south. If the conditions are suitable, coral larvae can situate themselves on hard substances, so that they may start to grow. As reefs grow, they build upon the remains of previous colonies. Brilliant and vivid coral reefs are found along coastlines, volcanic islands, and isolated atolls.
Coral reefs primarily can be found in two distinct regions: the Wider Caribbean (Atlantic Ocean) and the Indo-Pacific (from East Africa and the Red Sea to the Central Pacific Ocean)
Coral is much more diverse in the Indo-Pacific, especially in the waters around Indonesia, the Philippines, and Papaua new Guinea. Marine fauna follow the coral trend, as they are most varied in this region as well.
The Atlantic Ocean has fewer species, but are just as unique as those found in the other regions. In fact, there are very few common species between the two regions.
Coral Science from Outer Space to Inner Space
Coral reef systems can be found surrounding approximately 100 countries. These fragile and endangered ecosystems are home to more than 25% o the world’s marine life. In the past few decades, more than 35 million acres of reef have been destroyed. When temperatures change or any other aspects of the environment change, coral reefs lose the algae cells they rely on and appear white. Depending on the duration of stress, the coral may recover, or in some cases die. If the present rate of destruction continues, 70% of the coral reefs will be destroyed in the coming decades.