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Coral Reefs. Coral Reefs. Coral Reefs . Warm shallow ,tropical waters Limestone ridges built by tiny coral animals, coral polyps with the algae that live inside. Zooxanthellae is an algae that live inside coral and share a symbiotic relationship with them.

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coral reefs2
Coral Reefs
  • Warm shallow ,tropical waters
  • Limestone ridges built

by tiny coral animals,

  • coral polyps with the algae that live inside.

Zooxanthellae is an algae that live inside coral and share a symbiotic relationship with them.

  • Zooxanthellaeprovide oxygen and other nutrients to the coral polyps and the polyps give the algae the carbon dioxide they need to survive.

Zooxanthellae also give coral its beautiful color. Without Zooxanthellae, Coral have clear bodies and white skeletons.


Polyps secrete skeletons of limestone

  • Outer layer only contains living animals

Shrinking a CO2 Sink:

  • Coral polyps use Carbon Dioxide to form their shells. This helps decrease the amount of carbon dioxide in the ocean and is one way the Earth combats pollution and works to regain homeostasis.
  • With less coral, the ocean absorbs less Carbon Dioxide, leaving more in the atmosphere

Killing the Hope for a Cure:

  • Coral reefs are probable sources of medicines to cure the diseases
  • Chemicals found in the reefs have been used to treat ulcers, heart disease, leukemia, and more. In one of the most famous instances, AZT, which is based on chemicals extracted from a Caribbean reef sponge, has been used to treat HIV infections.
  • Currently, more than half of all cancer research is focused on finding cures from marine sources. Every time a reef is destroyed, the chance of relieving the pain and suffering of people all over the world is reduced.

The Loss of Natural Coastal Protection:

  • Reefs form near the shores of low lying coastal lands. They are a natural barrier of protection against currents, strong waves, and storms.
  • Without the reefs to slow the water before it reaches the shore, these areas are very vulnerable.
  • In one area where a reef was destroyed, it cost about $10 million per kilometer to build a protective wall along the coastline.

The Demise of Economies Dependent on Reefs:

  • Many humans are dependent on Coral Reefs for their livelihood.
  • It is estimated that reef fish and mollusks feed between thirty and forty million people each year.
  • Also, beautiful and exotic reef fish can also be sold as pets, providing cash income to families in poverty stricken areas.
  • Tourism provides the basis for entire economies in many regions. With responsible treatment of the reefs, it would be possible to sustain the lives of people who have close relationships with the reefs.

The End of Habitats with a High Density of Biodiversity:

  • Coral reefs are truly the rainforests of the sea.
  • They cover only about 1% of the ocean floor, yet
  • are home to about 25% of all marine life-
  • approximately 35,000 to 60,000 different types
  • of organisms. They are beautiful, lush, habitats
  • brimming with natural resources.


  • Water Contamination
  • Oil spills, waste dumping, and other byproducts of
  • human advances have resulted in the
  • contamination of the oceans.
  • When the homoeostasis of the reef area is lost,
  • there is an overgrowth of algae.
  • When too much algae grows on the reef, the coral
  • cannot get enough oxygen and is the reef is
  • effectively smothered by Nitrogen and Carbon
  • Dioxide.

Pollution: Increased CO2

  • Increases in the amounts of carbon dioxide found
  • in water have had an adverse effect on coral.
  • The Carbon Dioxide seems to be dissolving the
  • coral skeletons and making them much weaker.
  • The process has been compared to osteoporosis in
  • humans, and is leaving the fragile coral structures
  • weak and even more vulnerable to anthropogenic
  • fluxes.

Pollution: Global Warming and Ozone Depletion

  • Global warming has translated into oceanic warming, the rising temperature of earth’s oceans.
  • This process, combined with the depletion of
  • earth’s ozone and subsequent increases in
  • ultraviolet radiation, has lead to what is known as
  • “coral bleaching”.
  • Coral bleaching occurs when the coral polyps,
  • stressed by changes in temperature or UV
  • radiation, expel the zooxanthellae which are
  • necessary for their survival. This not only
  • “bleaches” them and causes them to lose their
  • color, it often leads to their death.

Direct Contact: Tourist Economies

  • Tourism has caused severe damage to the reefs.
  • Corals are often removed from their habitat to be sold as
  • souvenirs.
  • in some coastal areas with rapidly growing populations and
  • development, piers and docks have been built right on top
  • of coral reefs.
  • Careless divers often inadvertently destroy coral reefs by kicking them or dropping anchors from their boats directly onto the coral.
  • In poorer countries, septic waste from resorts often leaks out into the ocean, killing off the fragile corals.

Direct Contact: Fishing

  • Humans destroy coral reefs directly through
  • unfriendly fishing habits. Many coral reefs are
  • overfished, destroying their sustainability.
  • practices like cyanide fishing and blast fishing destroy reefs. Cyanide fishing is a method in which divers squirt cyanide into reef crevices and onto fish, stunning them and making them easy to catch. Small organisms, especially coral polyps, are killed by the cyanide in this process. Blast fishing, in which explosives or gun shots are sent into the reefs, can completely destroy the reef structure.