May 3, 2018
The underwater rainbow of colour – corals have been on this planet for more than 500 million years! They are often found in warm, tropical waters and they beautifully sway with the water’s current in shallow and coastal shores. It’s not just their eccentric and vibrant colours that are dazzling – there are some pretty cool facts to know too.
You’ll probably think of the coral itself as the “coral reef”, but that actually isn’t the case. The coral reef is a community of life that thrives in one location and corals belong to the phylum Cnidaria, which is a diverse group of creatures including jellyfish and sea anemones.
The Great Barrier Reef – located off the coast of Queensland, Australia – can be seen from outer space! It is the world’s largest single structure created by living organisms.
The Great Barrier Reef was created between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago. It covers a crazy 2,600 miles of ocean floor and crosses 500 islands. Within this huge coral structure, there are a further 900 smaller reefs.
Some coral reefs protect the shallow waters along the shore, which is why they are called barrier reefs. This protection from the coral allows for the survival of hundreds of sea plants and marine life.
Whether in or out of the water, coral polyps are like ‘jelly’. Hard corals lay down a calcium based structure that forms the hard coral reef beneath the water – this is the most common type of calcium to be found.
Barrier reefs help to break apart strong waves so that they don’t hit the shore at full force.
Coral plays a very important role in the survival and protection of our planet. It directly supports the marine-life ecosystem and helps to manage the planet’s carbon-monoxide levels.
There are three different types of reefs: barrier reefs, fringing reefs, and atolls. Atolls are ring-shaped and are often mistaken as islands.
One of the most important roles coral reefs play in the ocean is improving the water quality. Reefs act as a type of filter, trapping objects and waste found floating in the water.
Each year, across a seven-day period, the Great Barrier Reef explodes as coral spawn is spread across the ocean. It is a mass-synchronised underwater event that occurs in November.
Despite corals covering less than 1% of ocean floors, 25% of all marine creatures rely on coral reefs. Whether it’s for food, protection, or shelter, coral reefs are extremely important to ocean life.
Large coral reefs grow where strong waves and currents are found. Strong waves allow for more food to be delivered to the ecosystem, which in turn creates the coral structure. Despite corals’ importance and longevity, they grow slowly at a mere 0.2-0.8 inches per year.
Reef It Out!
Coral reefs are so important for the environment and the ecosystem that it’s worrying to know that 80% of the world’s coral reefs are currently endangered. It is forecasted that by 2030, 50% of them will be destroyed. We’re working hard to keep these beautiful structures safe with our conservation efforts.