Blog I live under water
The beauty of coral reefs

How do coral reefs arise?

Coral reef – the center of ocean life

Coral reefs are like oceanic metropolises. Although they occupy only 0.1% of the bottom of the world’s oceans, around 25% of all species inhabiting salty waters gather around them. These colorful, vibrant structures are not only popular dive sites, but also targeted for research by scientists from all over the world…

How does a coral reef form?

Young corals occur in the form of a planula, or larva. A planula has tiny, eyelash-like arms that allow it to stick to the things — usually the edge of an island or the coast of a continent. From the moment the planula is attached to something, it becomes a polyp and start to grow. Other polyps attach to the polyp to form a colony. For protection, corals produce an exoskeleton using calcium carbonate in the water (fun fact: calcium carbonate is exactly the same chemical that often builds up in tea kettles). In the meantime, other polyps, the remains of animals, plants and algae sediments join the colony. This is how a reef with a complex structure is created.

Beauty of coral reefs
Coral reefs – view from above

Why don’t coral reefs form everywhere?

Corals occur in warm waters where the temperature exceeds 18 ° C and optimally has a salinity of 3.6%. This explains why coral reefs are formed almost exclusively in the equatorial zone. At a depth of up to 50 m, the water is quickly moving, which transports food to the corals. Reefs do not occur where water excessively acidic and polluted. That is why coral reefs are becoming rarer, the current state of our world’s oceans is not very friendly to them.

What shape do coral reefs have?

Most often, coral reefs are formed as longitudinal barriers along coasts, although they also exist in open waters. Particularly noteworthy is another, quite specific type of reef, know as an atoll.

An atoll is formed when a volcanic island covered with corals erodes. The land is flooded with water, and the coral reef protrudes above the surface in the shape of a ring. The Maldives are a country located entirely on 26 atolls — it’s a perfect place for diving!

The beauty of coral reefs
Coral reefs – close-up

Why do we need coral reefs?

Coral reefs are priceless for humans for several other reasons. First of all, they function as a natural breakwater. In addition, fish and other sea creatures living in and around reefs are the basic food for many human communities. Reefs, thanks to their biodiversity, are also a source of many chemical substances that serve humans. Medicines containing compounds derived from coral reefs are used in anti-cancer and anti-HIV therapy. They may even help in the treatment of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other uncured diseases in the future.

Rodrigo Mendoza

Brazilian American. As a child was strictly connected with warm waters of sunny Brasil. His love to the underwater world has been increasing through the years. One of the most beautiful diving spots that he has ever been to was the Galapagos. Rescue Diver PADI certified.

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