Coral Reefs: At Risk Essay

Coral Reefs: At Risk Essay

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Coral reefs are diverse ecosystems that emanate great beauty while providing a home to many marine inhabitants. Coral reefs, being a marine ecosystem, are extremely important for the overall health of the surrounding environment. They provide food and shelter to a large bio-diverse population. Coral reefs are among the world’s oldest, most diverse, and most productive ecosystems (Miller and Hackett 129). Coral reefs are found in shallow coastal regions of warm tropical and subtropical oceans. Coral reefs are formed by massive colonies of tiny animals called polyps. The polyps build reefs by secreting a protective crust of calcium carbonate around their bodies. When the polyps die their empty crusts remain as a platform for more reef growth. The calcium carbonate has crevices and holes that a variety of marine animals make their home. The polyps and a type of algae called zooxanthellae are mutually dependent on each other to survive. Zooxanthellae live in the tissues of the polyps and provide the polyps with colour, food, and oxygen through photosynthesis and help make the calcium carbonate that forms a coral skeleton. The polyps reciprocate by providing adequate shelter to the zooxanthellae. Coral reefs are dependent on this symbiotic relationship. Coral reefs provide a number of important ecological and economic services. When coral polyps form their calcium carbonate shells they remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as part of the carbon cycle. Coral reefs help support about a quarter of all marine species and about two thirds of marine fish species (Miller and Hackett 129). Coral reefs also help protect the world’s coastlines from erosion by aggressive waves and storms. More than a quarter of the world’s coral reefs have be...

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...uilding Corals Face Elevated
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