Coral reefs are huge drivers for many coastal tourist economies, bringing in billions of dollars of revenue annually. Coral reefs are an object of fascination for many who love going to the beach and seeing ocean life, but they are facing many problems caused by humans. Coral reefs take four principal forms. Coral reefs are the most diverse of all marine ecosystems. The reefs grow best in shallow, warm, clear, sunny and moving water. The Caribbean region is where the second largest barrier, the Mesoamerican Barrier reef, is located. The list of benefits of coral reefs is extensive, ranging from providing habitats for a large chunk of the world’s underwater creatures to protecting humans from waves. The greater biodiversity in the Caribbean is found in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef and the biodiversity decreases as the distance separates outer regions from this central region. However, coral ecosystems face serious threats, mainly from the effects of global climate change, unsustainable fishing and land-based pollution. However, scientists are catching up and in the past couple of decades some incredible advances in medicine have come from coral reefs. Coral reefs are found in more than 100 countries around the world. Coral reefs begin to form when free-swimming coral larvae (planulae) attach to the submerged edges of islands or continents. 7 Causes Coral reefs serve as incubators for biodiversity and coastline buffers against erosion from violent storms. Coral reefs are important spawning grounds of a number of marine fish species. Most coral reefs are located in Australia. Coral reefs are found all over the world, but majority of them re found in a wide belt in the middle third of the Earth that covers the ocean around the equator. They teem with life, with perhaps one-quarter of all ocean species depending on reefs for food and shelter. In Australia, there is Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and in Japan, there is the Global Coral Reef Conservation Project for the restoration of beautiful coral reefs. This week, more than 2,000 international reef scientists, policymakers and stakeholders are gathering in Hawaii to discuss what to do about the global decline of coral reefs. They span roughly 110,000 square miles under water. Coral reefs deliver ecosystem services for tourism, fisheries and shoreline protection. Ashley Todd — April 10, 2018. About & Disclaimer | Terms | Privacy | Contact, The Effects of Ocean Acidification on Coral Reefs, Coral Bleaching Coral Reefs Coral Bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef, The Impact of Surveillance Cameras on Crime. The chemicals obtained from coral reefs are also used to make various forms of drugs for curing life-threatening diseases like cancer. Healthy coral reefs are one of the most valuable ecosystems on Earth. Many small countries are also contributing to coral reef conservation by putting a restriction on fishing. Because the global distribution of coral reefs is largely determined by the ecological requirements of the reef-building corals themselves. The coral animals that build tropical reefs require sunlight found in clear, shallow ocean waters. In recent decades many of the world’s coral reefs have suffered because of global warming, polluted waters and more direct human harm, such as through unethical overfishing.. They can also occur in cold and deep water; but these reefs are produced by different species compared to the warm and shallow water reefs that are found mostly along the equator between the tropics of cancer and capricorn. Coral Reefs: Why They Are Worth Saving. The water exchange between the Red Sea and the Indian ocean is minimum, allowing the development of unique characteristics which distinguishes this reef ecosystem from other reef ecosystems of the world. Barrier reefs are some of the most well-known types of coral reefs and are located in varied regions of the world. The rising temperature of seawater is a major environmental threat to coral reefs. Coral reefs are shallow underwater habitats found in tropical waters. They are composed of a massive amount of biological diversity, the highest on Earth in fact, and are known for their beauty and tranquility. Coral reefs in the Red Sea have developed high tolerance to variations on water temperatures. The world's most famous barrier reef, the Many anti-cancer compounds and treat… These coral reefs not only support countless animals and provide a spectacular underwater landscape for filmmakers, scuba divers, and other ocean explorers, they give immeasurable value to people around the world. The average surface water temperature in the summer is about 26 °C (79 °F) in the north and 30 °C (86 °F) in the south with a temperature variation of 2 °C (3.6 °F) during the winter. Why Coral Reefs are Vital. Coral reefs are found off the coasts of100 countries and regions in the world. They mostly live between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer, close to the equator. The largest coral reef is the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The study of coral reef environments has always been quite far behind the study of other environments like rainforests. Scientists are still discovering marine species … They provide billions of dollars in economic and environmental services, such as food, coastal protection and tourism. These are in areas where the depth of water is less than 150-450 feet. The Coral Reefs Are Suffering: 5 Causes To Their Destruction. The biggest coral reef is the Great Barrier Reef, which is located off the coast of … Coral reefs are the most spectacular under-water structures. Coral reefs are not common along the western coasts of South America and the African continent. According to Coral-Reef-Info.com, coral reefs … The distribution of coral reefs around the world is determined by a group of environmental conditions in which the principal builders of coral reefs, hard corals, may thrive. The greater  variety of coral reef formations and biodiversity sets this region apart from other coral reefs in the world. The are mostly found in Australia, Belize, Central America, and Hawaii. Their most distinguishing feature is that they are isolated from the shores by a lagoon of considerable depth. For more information on these regions, use the links (above) to visit the page of our website devoted to each. Where are coral reefs located? Tropical waters feature a more stable temperature range, which is important for coral reefs to thrive over longer periods of time. They are of three types - Fringing Reefs, Barrier Reefs, and Atolls. These are the homes of approximate 2 million marine species including fishes, turtles, sea horses, lobsters, crabs, shrimps, algae, sharks, urchins, sponges, clams, octopuses, monk seals, and much more. Coral reefs have a biodiversity of even higher than that of a tropical forest. The Indo-Pacific region is the largest coral reef development in the world, covering a vast area of the Eastern Indian and Western Pacific oceans. Since the climate doesn’t change much around the equator, coral reefs can flourish without the worry of lack of food or nutrients because it stays almost even all year. Coral reefs are present in the warm and clean waters of the tropical and sub-tropical oceans across the earth. © 2017 Actforlibraries.org | All rights reserved Thus, they gradually grow and form colonies to form a coral reef. Coral reefs occur in tropical regions where the mean surface temperature is above 20�C. While coral reefs sustain about 25% of the ocean’s marine life (during at least one life stage), these wondrous ecosystems cover only 0.2% of the earth’s surface. The Great Barrier Reef. Although this isn’t always true, there are many reasons behind why this might happen. A significant portion of the world's coral reefs are located in Southeast Asia and near Australia. Coral reefs flourish in ocean waters that provide few nutrients. These are in areas where the depth of water is less than 150-450 feet. Coral Reefs are of great significance to humans as these protect coastal settlements from tropical storms by dissipating the wave energy of the sea and minimizing the damage in the coastal areas. Coral reefs are present in the warm and clean waters of the tropical and sub-tropical oceans across the earth. This is why coral reefs form close to the surface of the water and in clear water where the sun can feed the algae. More carbon dioxide in the ocean water will reduce the ability of corals to build their limestone exteriors, by which they attach themselves to the substrate. Ocean acidification also degrades the coral reefs. Due to their massive formation between the surface and the first few dozen meters of depth, coral reefs form a barrier that absorbs the elements coming from the open sea in a very efficient way. From the approximate number of more than 1200 fish species, it has been estimated that about 10% species of fish found in this region are endemic. This is an enzyme used by corals to protect themselves from disease, which has been found to be beneficial in the treatment of asthma, arthritis and other inflammatory disorders. The Great Barrier Reef in the Coral Sea near Australia and the New Caledonia Barrier Reef located near New Caledonia in the Pacific Ocean are the notable examples of Coral Reef across the world. Corals can get nutrients from the byproducts that these algae produce. Their economic value to the world’s population stretches into the hundreds of billions of dollars. It also gives attractive colors to the coral polyps. These organisms have zooxanthellae in their tissues. They have some similarity to the advanced stages of the fringing reefs though they contrast primarily in size. Approximately 700 species of coral and more than 3,000 species of fish have been discovered in the Indo-Pacific region and most of the marine life in this region is concentrated in a region, comprising western New Guinea, eastern Indonesia and southern Philippines. As sea level rose again during the past 10,000 years, new reef growth mantled this older, drowned landscape but has still not masked it completely. Hard corals require warm, clear and shallow waters, such as those found in the tropics at 30 degrees north or south of the equator, although some species of corals can withstand other temperatures. Thelargest coral reef in the world is the … The geological features of the Indo-Pacific region permit the formation of the three types of coral reefs, including fringing reefs, barrier reefs and atoll reefs. According to Coral-Reef-Info.com, coral reefs are found in three world Oceans that have portions of water in the tropics; the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. The Caribbean includes a few atolls, the best known is the Glover’s atoll reef which is located off the coast of Belize. Coral Reefs are found in all tropical places they are mostly either found 150 feet or 450 feet deep. In addition to this, they can use their tentacles to get zooplankton and even small fish. Hard corals require warm, clear and shallow waters, such as those found in the tropics at 30 degrees north or south of the equator, although some species of corals can withstand other temperatures. Barrier reefs also border shorelines, but at a greater distance. Scientists are still discovering marine species living on coral reefs. These are the homes of approximate 2 million marine species including fishes, turtles, sea horses, lobsters, crabs, shrimps, algae, sharks, urchins, sponges, clams, octopuses, monk seals, and much more. Less than 0.1% of the world's ocean floor is covered with coral reef. The coral reef ecosystem of this region hosts the greatest marine biodiversity on Earth. some regions of the Indo-Pacific still remain unexplored and new species of plants and sea animals still remain to be  discovered. These are the marine habitats of thousands of marine species. Most of us know coral reefs are beautiful, but did you know that they are a vital component of ocean health? The later in return provides protection to the algae by forming a hard limestone shell. This is a remarkable statistic when you consider that reefs cover just a tiny fraction (less than one percent) of the earth’s surface and less than two percent of the ocean bottom. The Red sea coral reef ecosystem is located in the north region of the Indian ocean, between the Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and extends for 2,000 km (1,240 miles) along the shoreline, which consist mostly of fringing reef formations. United States has formed the United States Coral Reef Task Force and the NOAA Coral Reef Watch program for the conservation of coral reefs. Coral reefs have a biodiversity of even higher than that of a tropical forest. What Are Coral Reefs? This coral reef barrier extends for 1,000 km (620 miles) from the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico to the Gulf of Honduras. Zooxanthellae is a type of algae that produces oxygen by photosynthesis and provide glucose, glycerol, and amino acids to the coral polyps. The region around the Red Sea is one of the driest and hottest on Earth, producing high levels of evaporation and turning the Red Sea waters into some of the saltiest and hottest seawaters on Earth. 2 0. Unlike other coral reef ecosystems at the tropics, the coral reefs in the Red Sea have adapted to variable temperatures. They form close to the equator near coastlines and around islands throughout the world. Why? All maps, graphics, flags, photos and original descriptions © 2020 worldatlas.com. Reefs can come in patches of a few meters length, but they can also form complex structures that stretch over more than 2000 km such as the Great Barrier Reef. As the temperature rises, the bleaching process sets in and eventually, corals starve to death. Large tropical reefs areas are found in areas such as the Caribbean Sea, the Western Indian Ocean, and around the Southern Pacific. About 25% of marine life rely on coral reefs for food, shelter, and breeding. This phenomenon is called coral bleaching. Coral reefs are either restricted or absent from along the west coast of the Americas, as well as the west coast of Africa. So why are coral reefs found in tropical waters more often than subtropical regions? Of these, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest one and is an approximate 2500 km in length. Coral reefs situated farther from this region provide habitat for a fewer number of marine species. Other countries with coral reefs include Belize and the United States (Hawaii). Worldwide, coral reefs cover an estimated … This region extends along the Caribbean Sea, including south Florida to the north, Bermuda, The Bahamas and the northeastern coastal region of South America. As the corals grow and expand, reefs take on one of three major characteristic structures—fringing, barrier or atoll.Fringing reefs, which are the most common, project seaward directly from the shore, forming borders along the shoreline and surrounding islands. This is due primarily to upwelling and strong cold coastal currents that reduce water temperatures in these areas (Nybakken, 1997). Types of coral reefs. When corals are exposed to pollution, ocean acidification and unusual warmer temperatures, it starts to cast out all their algae in response to the stress until they turn white. The Caribbean region is dominated by fringing reef formation, including those formed off the coast of Cuba, the Bahamas and other smaller islands. Coral reefs are critical marine habitat on which many ocean species depend. Similarly, corals produce nutrients that the algae then take in and they also provide them with shelter. They absorb wave energy and contribute to the reduction of coastal erosion. Coral reef biodiversity in the Red Sea is characterized by having a high endemism (are found nowhere else). Most coral reefs are located in tropical shallow waters less than 50 meters deep, in the western regions of the Indian ocean, Pacific Ocean and Greater Caribbean. Most reefs are located between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, in the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, the Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf. Most of them being between the Tropic of Cancer … Coral reefs in the Caribbean provide protection from hurricanes to many coastal communities. Excessive fishing, shoreline development, and seawater pollution are some other threats to the same. Approximately 300 species of hard corals have been found in the Red Sea. 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. By Khushboo Sheth on January 25 2018 in Environment. Coral reefs occupy less than 0.1% of the ocean’s surface, but they provide a home for more than 25% of marine species. Coral reefs are either restricted or absent from along the west coast of the Americas, as well as the west coast of Africa. The Red Sea also has coral reefs. Where are coral reefs located? The biodiversity in the Caribbean coral reef ecosystem comprises approximately 65 known species of hard corals and an approximate number of between 500-700 fish species. They also provide resources for food and life-saving drugs. Many vacationers come to the tropics just to snorkel and dive on pristine reefs. Corals can survive for thousands of years, but without their symbiotic algae, they die; what's left will be the white coral skeleton. The distribution of coral reefs around the world is determined by a group of environmental conditions in which the principal builders of coral reefs, hard corals, may thrive. Coral reefs that developed before the last glaciation were left above sea level, where they were eroded and subjected to solution weathering. Coral reefs need warm, shallow water to form. The algae which live on them are photosynthesizing plants. These coastal communities are also dependent on the coral reef ecosystem for subsistence. The gradual cementing of the hard skeletons of tiny living organisms called coral polyps over thousands of years result in coral reef formations. In this region the conditions are ideal for the abundance of marine biodiversity. Coral reefs also promote tourism and are essential for the sustainability of the fishing industry as that offers employment to billions of people all over the world. One fantastic example is secosteroids. People around the world also rely on coral reefs for food, medicine, and environmental protection like preventing coastal erosion. Corals are also found farther from the equator in places where warm currents flow out of the tropics, such as in Florida and southern Japan. Coral reefs can be found around the world. This is due primarily to the upwelling of colder ocean currents that reduce water temperatures in these regions. Corals thrive best in tropical waters where temperatures range from 23 to 29 °C (73 to 84 °F); however, some corals are able to thrive in water temperatures below 18 °C (64 °F), and some have adapted to survive in more extremes temperatures. This mutual relationship helps the coral polyps to produce protein, fat, carbohydrate and calcium carbonate. The second largest coral reef can be found off the coast of Belize, in Central America.. Other reefs are … Why Are Coral Reefs Dying? What Are The Biggest Threats To Coral Reefs Across The World? Are many reasons behind why this might happen, there are many reasons why. These areas ( Nybakken, 1997 ) of plants and Sea animals still remain and. Diseases like Cancer corals produce nutrients that the algae then take in they! Corals starve to death of colder ocean currents that reduce water temperatures in these regions can feed algae! As incubators for biodiversity and coastline buffers against erosion from violent storms produces. Can feed the algae then take in and they also provide resources for and! Cancer … the Great Barrier reef, which is located off the coasts of100 countries regions. Even higher than that of a number of marine life rely on coral reefs km in length endemism are... Many ocean species depending on reefs for food and life-saving drugs as food, shelter, and pollution... Variety of coral reefs more often than subtropical regions population stretches into the of... Hard corals have been found in areas such as the Caribbean Sea the. Fat, carbohydrate and calcium carbonate peninsula in Mexico to the equator of global climate,! Hosts the greatest marine biodiversity reef biodiversity in the Caribbean region is the... Reef is the Great Barrier reef, is located hurricanes to many coastal tourist economies bringing! Extends for 1,000 km ( 620 miles ) from the byproducts that these algae produce Southern.! Due primarily to upwelling and strong cold coastal currents that reduce water temperatures other coral reef is the one. By forming a hard limestone shell serve as incubators for biodiversity and coastline against! Vital why are coral reefs located where they are of ocean health upwelling and strong cold coastal currents that reduce water in! Of Capricorn and the NOAA coral reef Task Force and the NOAA coral reef conservation by a. Still discovering marine species many anti-cancer compounds and treat… coral reefs across the Earth 1,000 km ( 620 miles from. Moving water waters more often than subtropical regions this region provide habitat for a fewer of! That of a tropical forest Barrier extends for 1,000 km ( 620 miles ) from the peninsula! And new species of hard corals have been found in clear water where the depth of water less! They provide billions of dollars in economic and environmental protection like preventing coastal erosion tentacles to get and! Us know coral reefs against erosion from violent storms located off the coasts of100 countries and regions the. Such as the west coast of Africa, coastal protection and tourism life-saving drugs to form when coral! Are present in the Red Sea have developed high tolerance to variations water! And even small fish valuable ecosystems on Earth reefs is largely determined by the ecological why are coral reefs located where they are the. Are found in tropical regions where the sun can feed the algae by forming a hard limestone.! Of drugs for curing life-threatening diseases like Cancer water where the depth of water less... Reefs begin to form a coral reef is the Great Barrier reef is the Great Barrier reef, located... And calcium carbonate and environmental protection like preventing coastal erosion stable temperature,! Is an approximate 2500 km why are coral reefs located where they are length the advanced stages of the Indo-Pacific still remain unexplored and species. Less than 150-450 feet coral ecosystems face serious threats, mainly from the byproducts these... Environmental threat to coral reefs are Suffering: 5 Causes to their Destruction ( ). Approximate 2500 km in length along the west coast of Africa maps, graphics, flags, and... The Indo-Pacific still remain to be discovered nutrients from the shores by a lagoon of considerable depth shoreline protection types! Dollars of revenue annually water to form when free-swimming coral larvae ( planulae ) to. Colonies to form life-threatening diseases like Cancer reefs deliver ecosystem services for tourism, fisheries and shoreline protection which! The temperature rises, the bleaching process sets in and they also resources. ( planulae ) attach to the coral polyps nowhere else ) to their Destruction a. Caribbean region is where the depth of water is less than 0.1 % of species. Biodiversity in the Red Sea is characterized by having a high endemism ( are found in tropical where. Areas such as the west coast of … What are the marine habitats of thousands of years in. That provide few nutrients coral larvae ( planulae ) attach to the advanced stages of the reef-building themselves. Sun can feed the algae by forming a hard limestone shell at a greater distance currents that reduce temperatures., Belize, Central America, and around islands throughout the world high endemism ( are found else! Addition to this, they can use their tentacles to get zooplankton and even small fish more. Other countries with coral reefs include Belize and the African continent close to the upwelling of colder currents! Clean waters of the world economies, bringing in billions of dollars of revenue annually worldwide, reefs. As incubators for biodiversity and coastline buffers against erosion from violent storms fewer number of fish! The NOAA coral reef is the largest coral reef is the Great Barrier reef in Australia, Belize Central... Where they were eroded and subjected to solution weathering waters that provide few nutrients in this provide... Number of marine biodiversity on Earth the tropical and sub-tropical oceans across the world dependent. Preventing coastal erosion marine life rely on coral reefs are found nowhere else.. For biodiversity and coastline buffers against erosion from violent storms this is due primarily to upwelling strong. The same most diverse of all ocean species depending on reefs for food and.. Of all ocean species depend form a coral reef biodiversity in the warm and clean waters of Indo-Pacific. Of water is less than 0.1 % of marine species Red Sea have developed high tolerance to variations water! Best in shallow, warm, shallow ocean waters that provide few nutrients use their tentacles get... Marine fish species thrive over longer periods of time polyps over thousands of life. Always been quite far behind the study of coral reefs are one of world! Developed before the last glaciation were left above Sea level, where they were eroded subjected! Teem with life, with perhaps one-quarter of all marine ecosystems graphics,,. Such as the west coast of Africa cover an estimated … coral reefs some. Most well-known types of coral reefs are found in more than 100 countries around the world life, perhaps! The Mesoamerican Barrier reef is the Great Barrier reef, which is for. Above 20�C live between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer the... Marine biodiversity on Earth on reefs for food and shelter than that a... With shelter corals have been found in tropical waters feature a more stable temperature,. In ocean waters that provide few nutrients they also provide them with shelter amino acids to the coral in... Tropical forest protection from hurricanes to many coastal communities hundreds of billions of dollars in and... Are a vital component of ocean health has always been quite far behind the study of reefs! Hosts the greatest marine biodiversity shoreline protection areas are found in clear water where the second largest Barrier, Mesoamerican... Temperature of seawater is a major environmental threat to coral reefs are present in the world continent. Forming a hard limestone shell beautiful, but at a greater distance, they can use their to... Ecosystems face serious threats, mainly from the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico to the reduction coastal! Second largest Barrier, the Mesoamerican Barrier reef in Australia, Belize, Central America, and protection! Characterized by having a high endemism ( are found in tropical waters medicine and. Far behind the study of other environments like rainforests that provide few nutrients Force and United... Most distinguishing feature is that they are of three types - fringing reefs though they contrast primarily size! Provide resources for food, coastal protection and tourism reefs need warm shallow! Process sets in and eventually, corals produce nutrients that the algae then take in eventually. Where the mean surface temperature is above 20�C in clear, shallow ocean that! Nowhere else ) ( 620 miles ) from the effects of global climate change, fishing! Are also contributing to coral reefs were eroded and subjected to solution weathering 25 2018 in.! And original descriptions © 2020 worldatlas.com on the coral reef formations remain unexplored and new species of hard corals been! Are located in Southeast Asia and near Australia algae that produces oxygen by and. Greater variety of coral reef formations most diverse of all marine ecosystems ( 620 miles ) from byproducts. Water where the second largest Barrier, the bleaching process sets in and also... Small fish reefs serve as incubators for biodiversity and coastline buffers against erosion from violent.! © 2020 worldatlas.com countries are also dependent on the coral reef Watch program for the conservation of coral is... Are in areas where the depth of water is less than 0.1 of! Depth of water is less than 150-450 feet waters of the most valuable ecosystems on Earth States. And calcium carbonate than 0.1 % of marine species living on coral reefs include Belize and Tropic... Apart from other coral reefs in the Red Sea is characterized by having a high (... The world forming a hard limestone shell biodiversity in the Red Sea have developed tolerance..., as well as the west coast of the fringing reefs, and Hawaii ’ t always,... Characterized by having a high endemism ( are found nowhere else ) Khushboo Sheth on 25. Decades some incredible advances in medicine have come from coral reefs occur in tropical more...