Coral Reef Fun Facts
Why saving our reefs is so critical
Coral reefs are incredibly important part of the global marine ecosystem. They cover only a tiny portion of the ocean floor, but at least a quarter of all sea animals live around reefs. This is why are called the rainforests of the seas. Fish lay their eggs near reefs to keep them safe. Reefs also create areas where sea mammals can raise and feed their babies. Reefs even help clean the ocean!
Reefs are important for people, too. Scientists are creating new medicines from corals that could cure all kinds of diseases. They call reefs “the medicine cabinets of the 21st century.”
More Reef Fun Facts
What Are Corals?
Corals are groups of tiny animals called polyps. Polyps make outer shells for themselves that merge together into a home they all share!
What Are Reefs?
A reef is a ridge of natural material that rises above or is just below the ocean’s surface. Reefs are usually made of rocks, sand, or coral.
The Three Types of Reef
1. Fringing Reefs
These reefs grow very close to ocean shores, in very shallow water.
2. Barrier Reefs
Barrier reefs grow further out to sea.
Atolls are ring-shaped reefs that surround a lagoon.
The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is made up from more than 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands. It is so big, you can see it from space!
Artificial reefs can replace natural reefs that have vanished. Stacks of cinder blocks, construction debris, even shipwrecks can become new reefs.
How Artificial Reefs Grow
First, sponges, algae and coral anchor to them. Ocean currents also bring plankton to the reef. Small fish come to feed on the plankton, and then bigger fish come to feed on the smaller fish. Soon, a new “ocean rainforest” has formed!
Electricity Makes Them Even Better!
If you run a small electric current through metal, it helps limestone to crystallize on its surface. Coral can attach to limestone more easily. And the electricity helps coral to grow faster, too!