EcoSystem Main - Coral Reefs - Abiotic - Animals - Plants - Adaptations and Relationships - Food Web - Threats - Fun Stuff - Bibliography
are among the oldest and most diverse ecosystems in the world. They are called the
rainforest of the sea because even though they cover only .07 percent of the
Earth's surface (about the size of Texas), they support 25 % of all marine fish
species. 500 million people rely on coral reefs for their food and livelihoods
as well as for protection against erosion of the coast from the sea. Scientist
discovered treatments for cardiovascular diseases and ulcers as well as some
possible new medicines for cancer and HIV in the reefs and coral skeletons have
been used as bone grafts for humans. However, if the present rate
of destruction of coral reefs continues, 70% of coral reefs will be dead by
There are different kinds of coral: hermatypic corals, ahermatypic corals, and soft and hard corals of each kind. Hermatypic corals are the colorful corals in tropical reefs that we usually conjure a picture of when we say "coral" while ahermatypic corals usually live in the depths of the ocean and don't necessarily have any color. When l use plain "coral" in this site I mean hermatypic corals. For details on differences between hermatypic and ahermatypic corals, see Adaptations and Relationships and for the difference between hard and soft corals see Animals: coral.
|Overview of Coral Reef in Fiji|
Reefs come in three types : Fringing, Barrier and Atoll
Fringing Reefs hug the coast
|Diagram of Fringing Reef||Fringing Reef Bora Bora NASA JPL Satellite: Space Shuttle Sensor: SIR-C/X-SAR|
Barrier Reefs form further away from the cost and usually have a lagoon between it and land.
|Barrier Reef Diagram|
Atoll Reefs are fringing or barrier reefs that formed around an island which then sank over time leaving only a circle of reefs
around a lagoon.
Coral Reefs are the largest living structure on Earth and the Great Barrier Reef is the largest at almost 2000km
|Map of Great Barrier Reef|