The Caribbean region is dominated by fringing reef formation, including those formed off the coast of Cuba, the Bahamas and other smaller islands. Most of us know coral reefs are beautiful, but did you know that they are a vital component of ocean health? Coral reefs in the Caribbean provide protection from hurricanes to many coastal communities. Approximately 300 species of hard corals have been found in the Red Sea. By Khushboo Sheth on January 25 2018 in Environment. Thus, they gradually grow and form colonies to form a coral reef. The average surface water temperature in the summer is about 26 °C (79 °F) in the north and 30 °C (86 °F) in the south with a temperature variation of 2 °C (3.6 °F) during the winter. Most coral reefs are located in Australia. They absorb wave energy and contribute to the reduction of coastal erosion. Healthy coral reefs are one of the most valuable ecosystems on Earth. The geological features of the Indo-Pacific region permit the formation of the three types of coral reefs, including fringing reefs, barrier reefs and atoll reefs. Corals can survive for thousands of years, but without their symbiotic algae, they die; what's left will be the white coral skeleton. Ocean acidification also degrades the coral reefs. They form close to the equator near coastlines and around islands throughout the world. Approximately 700 species of coral and more than 3,000 species of fish have been discovered in the Indo-Pacific region and most of the marine life in this region is concentrated in a region, comprising western New Guinea, eastern Indonesia and southern Philippines. This mutual relationship helps the coral polyps to produce protein, fat, carbohydrate and calcium carbonate. It also gives attractive colors to the coral polyps. Coral reefs in the Red Sea have developed high tolerance to variations on water temperatures. Coral reefs occur in tropical regions where the mean surface temperature is above 20�C. They span roughly 110,000 square miles under water. Coral reef biodiversity in the Red Sea is characterized by having a high endemism (are found nowhere else). These are in areas where the depth of water is less than 150-450 feet. They have some similarity to the advanced stages of the fringing reefs though they contrast primarily in size. This is why coral reefs form close to the surface of the water and in clear water where the sun can feed the algae. Coral reefs occupy less than 0.1% of the ocean’s surface, but they provide a home for more than 25% of marine species. Coral reefs are either restricted or absent from along the west coast of the Americas, as well as the west coast of Africa. Less than 0.1% of the world's ocean floor is covered with coral reef. Where are coral reefs located? This is due primarily to upwelling and strong cold coastal currents that reduce water temperatures in these areas (Nybakken, 1997). This phenomenon is called coral bleaching. Corals thrive best in tropical waters where temperatures range from 23 to 29 °C (73 to 84 °F); however, some corals are able to thrive in water temperatures below 18 °C (64 °F), and some have adapted to survive in more extremes temperatures. Similarly, corals produce nutrients that the algae then take in and they also provide them with shelter. While coral reefs sustain about 25% of the ocean’s marine life (during at least one life stage), these wondrous ecosystems cover only 0.2% of the earth’s surface. The biggest coral reef is the Great Barrier Reef, which is located off the coast of … Many vacationers come to the tropics just to snorkel and dive on pristine reefs. They teem with life, with perhaps one-quarter of all ocean species depending on reefs for food and shelter. Why Coral Reefs are Vital. All maps, graphics, flags, photos and original descriptions © 2020 worldatlas.com. Coral reefs begin to form when free-swimming coral larvae (planulae) attach to the submerged edges of islands or continents. Coral Reefs: Why They Are Worth Saving. When corals are exposed to pollution, ocean acidification and unusual warmer temperatures, it starts to cast out all their algae in response to the stress until they turn white. Coral reefs that developed before the last glaciation were left above sea level, where they were eroded and subjected to solution weathering. Many anti-cancer compounds and treat… However, coral ecosystems face serious threats, mainly from the effects of global climate change, unsustainable fishing and land-based pollution. Hard corals require warm, clear and shallow waters, such as those found in the tropics at 30 degrees north or south of the equator, although some species of corals can withstand other temperatures. In Australia, there is Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and in Japan, there is the Global Coral Reef Conservation Project for the restoration of beautiful coral reefs. This is an enzyme used by corals to protect themselves from disease, which has been found to be beneficial in the treatment of asthma, arthritis and other inflammatory disorders. They are most commonly found at shallow depths in tropical waters, but deep water and cold water coral reefs exist on smaller scales in other areas. These coastal communities are also dependent on the coral reef ecosystem for subsistence. Many small countries are also contributing to coral reef conservation by putting a restriction on fishing. These organisms have zooxanthellae in their tissues. Large tropical reefs areas are found in areas such as the Caribbean Sea, the Western Indian Ocean, and around the Southern Pacific. The Coral Reefs Are Suffering: 5 Causes To Their Destruction. The distribution of coral reefs around the world is determined by a group of environmental conditions in which the principal builders of coral reefs, hard corals, may thrive. Coral reefs need warm, shallow water to form. Coral reefs are important spawning grounds of a number of marine fish species. For more information on these regions, use the links (above) to visit the page of our website devoted to each. some regions of the Indo-Pacific still remain unexplored and new species of plants and sea animals still remain to be  discovered. The greater biodiversity in the Caribbean is found in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef and the biodiversity decreases as the distance separates outer regions from this central region. So why are coral reefs found in tropical waters more often than subtropical regions? The biodiversity in the Caribbean coral reef ecosystem comprises approximately 65 known species of hard corals and an approximate number of between 500-700 fish species. Coral Reefs are found in all tropical places they are mostly either found 150 feet or 450 feet deep. About 25% of marine life rely on coral reefs for food, shelter, and breeding. A significant portion of the world's coral reefs are located in Southeast Asia and near Australia. Coral reefs are critical marine habitat on which many ocean species depend. These are the homes of approximate 2 million marine species including fishes, turtles, sea horses, lobsters, crabs, shrimps, algae, sharks, urchins, sponges, clams, octopuses, monk seals, and much more. Why Are Coral Reefs Dying? Worldwide, coral reefs cover an estimated … People around the world also rely on coral reefs for food, medicine, and environmental protection like preventing coastal erosion. Coral reefs are an object of fascination for many who love going to the beach and seeing ocean life, but they are facing many problems caused by humans. Coral reefs are found off the coasts of100 countries and regions in the world. Coral reefs are found in more than 100 countries around the world. As the temperature rises, the bleaching process sets in and eventually, corals starve to death. Due to their massive formation between the surface and the first few dozen meters of depth, coral reefs form a barrier that absorbs the elements coming from the open sea in a very efficient way. Scientists are still discovering marine species … More carbon dioxide in the ocean water will reduce the ability of corals to build their limestone exteriors, by which they attach themselves to the substrate. This week, more than 2,000 international reef scientists, policymakers and stakeholders are gathering in Hawaii to discuss what to do about the global decline of coral reefs. Barrier reefs are some of the most well-known types of coral reefs and are located in varied regions of the world. Coral reefs are present in the warm and clean waters of the tropical and sub-tropical oceans across the earth. 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