Coral reefs are home to one of every four marine species and are vital to maintaining the biological diversity of ocean ecosystems. These ecosystems are the oldest most productive on earth: they have been existing for over 200 million years.
On top of their environmental importance, coral reefs are extremely important to local economies, tourism, human health, fishing industries, and much more.
Yet these vast resources are suffering severe destructive loss at an alarming rate. By conservative estimates, approximately 25% of the world’s coral reefs are already destroyed.
If current trends continue, we risk losing this resource entirely within the next 30-50 years.
But the situation isn’t hopeless. There is still so much we can do to preserve these colorful undersea gardens for future generations.
Those fascinating marine organisms were classified as animals back in 1726 with gratitude to the efforts of a French physician called Andre Peysonnel.
They grow in colonies in tropical areas between 32 degrees north and south of the equator in salt water of 3 to 4 percent salinity, temperatures between 20 to 30 degrees and can be found in any place from right below the sea surface to 50 meters of depth.
Although they are classified into many different categories, they are widely recognized as two different types; soft corals and hard corals. They have a protective layer of mucus covering all around which acts as a shield from the bacteria (much like a human skin) , which is easily removed by the slightest touch of divers’ or snorkellers hands or fin strokes leaving them unprotected and easily infected; that is one of the reasons of corals’ decline on earth… us, humans.
Coral reef facts:
- Occupy only 0.7% of the ocean floor, but provide homes and vital nursery grounds for 25% of all marine species on the planet.
- Support 4,000 species of fish, 700 species of coral, and thousands of plants and animals.
- Are composed of thousands of tiny animals called polyps.
- Are responsible for building the largest biological structure on earth-the Great Barrier Reef.