Problems For The Corals Essay

2306 words - 9 pages

Categories and Structure of Coral ReefsThere are three basic kinds of coral reefs in the Caribbean: fringing reefs, barrier reefs and atolls. Fringing reefs are coral reefs that grow in shallow waters and border the coast closely or are separated from it by a narrow stretch of water. Fringing reefs consist of several zones that are characterized by their depth, the structure of the reef, and its plant and animal communities. These regions include the reef crest (the part of the reef the waves break over), the fore reef (the region of medium energy), and the spur and groove or buttress zone (the region of coral growth which includes rows of corals with sandy canyons or passages between each row).Barrier reefs are reefs that are separated from land by a lagoon. These reefs grow parallel to the coast and are large and continuous. Barrier reefs also include regions of coral formation that include the zones found in fringing reefs along with patch reefs (small reefs), back reefs (the shoreward side of the reef), as well as bank reefs (reefs that occur on deep bottom irregularities). Coral reefs also include reef flats (the are of the reef not exposed), the reef crest, which runs parallel to the coast and is protected from waves, and a coral terrace (a slope of sand with isolated coral peaks). These features are followed by another coral terrace and a vertical drop into deeper waters.The third type of coral reefs are atolls. Atolls are annular reefs that develop at or near the surface of the sea when islands that are surrounded by reefs subside. Atolls separate a central lagoon and are circular or sub-circular. There are two types of atolls: deep sea atolls that rise from deep sea and those found on the continental shelf.Corals can obtain food in a variety of ways. Reef-building corals rely on the photosynthetic products of zooxanthellae for the majority of their nutrients. However, corals also capture zooplankton for food. Corals are suspension feeders. They utilize two main methods of prey capture: nematocyst adhesion and mucus entrapment (Sebens and Johnson, 1991). Nematocysts on the tentacles and mesentarial filaments can be used to sting prey and move it into the mouth. Some corals will trap prey in sticky mucus on their tentacles and move the prey into the mouth using the mucus and cilia. Prey size is correlated to polyp size (Sebens and Johnson, 1991).Most corals feed at night. This may be because night is when the zooplankton travel into the water column and become available for capture. Keeping the tentacles retracted during the day may also help corals avoid predation, protect themselves from UV light, and avoid shading their zooxanthellae.Prey can be brought into contact with the tentacles by direct interception (the flow of water makes the particles impact the tentacles), by inertial impaction (momentum of dense particles makes them deviate from the water flow and impact the tentacles), and by gravitational deposition (gravity causes heavy...

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