- Coral reefs have been built up from the skeletons of reef-building coral a small primitive marine animal, and other marine animals and algae over thousands of years. They occur in clear, shallow and sunlit seas. Coral reefs are one of the most productive and diverse ecosystems and are estimated to yield about 12% of the world's fish catch. They are very vulnerable to any change in their environment, especially pollution, because it makes the water opaque. They must have light in order that photosyntesis by the algae can take place. Like trees, corals reflect the environmental conditions in which they grow, indicating marine pollution, sea-surface temperature and other aquatic conditions.
|Abstract from DBPedia||
A coral reef is an underwater ecosystem characterized by reef-building corals. Reefs are formed of colonies of coral polyps held together by calcium carbonate. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, whose polyps cluster in groups. Coral belongs to the class Anthozoa in the animal phylum Cnidaria, which includes sea anemones and jellyfish. Unlike sea anemones, corals secrete hard carbonate exoskeletons that support and protect the coral. Most reefs grow best in warm, shallow, clear, sunny and agitated water. Coral reefs first appeared 485 million years ago, at the dawn of the Early Ordovician, displacing the microbial and sponge reefs of the Cambrian. Sometimes called rainforests of the sea, shallow coral reefs form some of Earth's most diverse ecosystems. They occupy less than 0.1% of the world's ocean area, about half the area of France, yet they provide a home for at least 25% of all marine species, including fish, mollusks, worms, crustaceans, echinoderms, sponges, tunicates and other cnidarians. Coral reefs flourish in ocean waters that provide few nutrients. 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. Coral reefs have declined by 50% since 1950, partly because they are sensitive to water conditions. They are under threat from excess nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), rising ocean heat content and acidification, overfishing (e.g., from blast fishing, cyanide fishing, spearfishing on scuba), sunscreen use, and harmful land-use practices, including runoff and seeps (e.g., from injection wells and cesspools). Coral reefs deliver ecosystem services for tourism, fisheries and shoreline protection. The annual global economic value of coral reefs has been estimated at anywhere from US$30–375 billion (1997 and 2003 estimates) to US$2.7 trillion (a 2020 estimate) to US$9.9 trillion (a 2014 estimate).