The coral reefs are found in shallow, warm water only, where the temperature of around 18 to 30° C is mostly constant throughout the year.
The reefs are made up of thousands of corals, and when this colony dies, the calcium carbonate skeleton is left behind.
The reefs are made up of the actual animals called polyps (the physical part of the animal). They are column shaped, and attached to the reef floor. Their top end extends into the water, being able to move freely. When numerous polyps form a colony, a reef is formed.
- They are the oldest ecosystems present on the planet.
- Most of the reefs are located in the Pacific ocean.
- Almost 500 people all over the world are relying on them for their livelihood, and most importantly for food.
- Around the world, these reefs are responsible for generating more than USD 350 billion per year regarding the tourism, goods and services, food industry, pharmaceutical industry, etc.
- These structures protect the shorelines, agricultural land, coastal dwellings, and beaches from the eroding forces of the sea waves, in the form of natural barriers.
- If the reefs did not exist, Florida would be under water.
- Scientists working off the coast of Bahia (state in Brazil), have discovered a vast region of coral reefs that were unknown.
- The researchers studying them off the coast of Australia, have found over 300 species of soft corals.
- These are being also used for treating cancer, HIV, ulcers, and cardiovascular diseases.
- The porous coral limestone has been used in the manufacturing of bone grafts for humans.
- The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world, and is located towards northeast of Queensland, Australia. It is composed of about 3,000 small reefs, and it covers an area of approximately 350,000 sq. km. It was formed around 500,000 years ago.
- Researches say that by taking the present condition into consideration, if the rate of destruction continues, almost 70% of the coral pecies will be destroyed by the year 2050. Hence, it is of utmost importance for saving these reefs.
- Coral bleaching and water pollution is harming them at an alarming rate, which results in their destruction.