If you’ve never swum deep into the oceans before, you may not have come across gorgeous coral reefs. These natural ‘sea forests’ are hugely important to the lives of millions of aquatic life swimming in and out of their various nooks and crannies.
Sadly, they are under threat now more so than ever before. Here are 15 interesting facts about coral reefs…
Coral isn’t actually a plant – it’s more of an animal! They actually share plenty in common with various animals of the deep, such as sea anemones.
Coral reefs are home to extremely diverse ecosystems of creatures. However, the diversity of a reef will differ depending on the direction water is going in, and where the reef is actually based in the world. No two are ever quite the same!
Coral reefs are massive. They are, in fact, thought to be the largest type of natural structure on Earth.
However, coral reefs are constantly under threat. Thanks to human pollution, coral dies off, unable to claim the light and food that it needs.
It’s thought that almost 20% of the world’s coral reefs have died as a result of human poisoning.
They’ve been part of the planet for over 400 million years. Considering we’ve been here for around two million of those, it’s probably time we showed the reefs some respect!
Coral reefs are bursting with fantastic color. That’s thanks to the algae that live within. They help to provide crucial food to coral.
Reefs are also fantastic at helping to improve water quality. This means that they act as ocean filters! It’s great news for species that live nearby, as well as any human swimmers!
It’s emerging that coral reefs can be safely harvested to help produce human medicine. Research into coral suggests that it can help to aid bacterial infection and even psychological disorders.
The biggest coral reef, down in Australasia, is the aptly-named Great Barrier Reef. It’s thought to make up around 10% of all coral reefs on Earth.
In fact, it’s a real job provider. Believe it or not, the Great Barrier Reef helps to generate over $5.5 billion per year to the Australian economy.
There are three main types of reef. There are barrier reefs, atolls, and fringing reefs.
If coral reefs were to disappear, it wouldn’t just be marine life that suffers. Humans would feel the impact – as mentioned, jobs would be lost, huge amounts of tourism would disappear, and we’d even lose access to a massive food source.
You can generally split coral into soft or hard types. However, all coral is very sensitive, which is why pollution is so devastating. Even a slight increase in temperature can kill off coral.
Coral reefs will be crucial in the fight against global warming, too. These huge living forests provide an incredible amount of CO2 to the oceans, but at the same time, they are brilliant regulators. Without them, things would hot up a lot quicker.
Do you know any fun or interesting facts about coral reefs that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!