Coral Reefs…Teeming With Life

By  | November 7, 2017 | Filed under: Interesting Facts, News

Hidden beneath the ocean waters, coral reefs teem with life. Coral reefs support more species than any other marine environment and rival rainforests in their biodiversity. Countless numbers of creatures rely on coral reefs for their survival.

Corals are animals, even though they may exhibit some of the characteristics of plants and are often mistaken for rocks. In scientific classification, corals fall under the phylum Cnidaria and the class Anthozoa. They are relatives of jellyfish and anemones. There are over 800 known species of reef ­building coral worldwide and hundreds of species of soft corals and deep-sea corals.

The three main types of coral reefs are fringing, barrier, and atoll.

 Fringing reef

Fringing reef

The most common type of reef is the fringing reef. Fringing reefs grow near the coastline and are separated from the shore by a shallow and narrow channel of water. These reefs are usually narrow and recently formed.

 

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Atoll

When a fringing reef continues to grow upward from a volcanic island that has sunk entirely below sea level, an atoll is formed. Atolls are usually circular or oval in shape, with an open lagoon in the center.  They can also be formed by rising sea levels.

 

great-barrier-reefBarrier reefs are similar to fringing reefs in that they also border a shoreline; however, instead of growing directly out from the shore, they are separated from land by an expanse of water. This creates a lagoon of open, often deep water between the reef and the shore.

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