Coral reefs are one of the oldest and the most diverse ecosystems in the planet; because of such matter, scientists coined coral reefs as ‘rainforests of the sea. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA for short (2008) estimated that about 25% of marine life use coral reefs as safe havens from predators, breeding grounds, and feeding grounds despite the fact that coral reefs only cover a small percentage (estimated about 0.1%) of the world’s oceans. It serves an umbrella specie because it serves both as a habitat and a living, breathing organism for other marine animals to thrive. According to Withgott (2011), coral reefs is a massive oceanic structure composed of skeletons from dead marine animals found in most parts of the world’s oceans (p. 439). These animals also serve protection and home for other marine life, such as smaller like clownfish who use sea anemones to keep their young safe after reproduction, to larger marine life like sharks use reefs as feeding grounds. It is not only the fish that should be thankful for coral reefs, humans should also thank reefs because it acts as a natural buffer and reduce the destructive capability of waves when it reaches the shoreline; which is important especially in coastline communities here in Florida. Coral reefs also attracts tourists, for example, the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia, explore the wonders of the Earth’s ocean and marine life. Due to climate changes, human factors such as pollution, tourism, and overfishing, and the recent rise of the ocean’s acidity, coral reefs are considered endangered, and if destroyed the world’s oceans would never thrive.
Coral: Building Blocks of Reefs
Without corals, there would be no coral reefs. Many people assume that coral is the bony structure that is poked out like a plant where fish gather up to forage for food but technically it is not. Christholm (1911) mentioned that corals are invertebrate animals related to jellyfishes and sea anemones; they are from the phylum cnidaria and class anthozoa which share the same traits as the species mentioned earlier (p. 104). According to R.D. Barnes, author of Invertebrate Zoology (1987), mentioned that corals are akin to plankton and zooplankton, they drift through ocean currents until they latch on a solid surface to thrive on until they become one structure that was hardened by an exoskeleton made out of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). The image at the right is an example of a coral but before it became like that, it could have several hundreds or thousands of coral polyp to form a fully-fledged coral.
Most corals rely on sunlight and some corals do eat other marine life, like smaller fishes for food to thrive. Corals also are nocturnal creatures and only feed at night; they use their stinging cells...