Coral reefs have continued to impress and amaze scuba divers for many years, the vibrant colors and the magnificent structures each one different to the next. They are a fascinating ecosystems and creates the perfect habitat for marine life which is what makes them so good for divers to explore.
Created begins its life as lava, traveling with the flow of water, eventually they lay to rest. After finding a convenient place, a change occurs, known as metamorphosis. It then becomes a primary polyp, the foundation of a successful coral reef. It will then clone itself to create a colony of polyps, over a period of several months. The coral will begin to grow. The polyps feed using tentacles, these pick up plankton floating in the water, once its food is caught its passed down through the mouth into the main body, after which the nutrients are consumed.
Coral reef will grow in shallow, tropical waters where sun light is in abundance. Much like trees, they grow up, towards the light and therefore the surface of the water. The reef, when it reaches the surface it will often struggle to cope with the harsher conditions, will grow out horizontally, this creates large expanses of reef potentially stretching for miles. Currents will bring much needed nutrients, this means that coral reefs will thrive in areas with large water movement.
Coral is reproduced in a similar way to other animals, they simultaneously release eggs and sperm, this happens each year, usually after a full moon. Once the egg is fertilized a lava develops within a few days and is released to begin its own journey to find a suitable place to rest, when it has, again metamorphosis occurs and the cycle is repeated.
There are 3 main types of coral reef ‘Fringing Reefs’ which lay near to shorelines, expanding seaward and also parallel the shore. ‘Barrier Reefs’ which are similar, forming along shorelines, except, further out than fringe reefs – A large expansive of open water will separate the reef from the shore. Then we have ‘Atoll Reefs’ where they rise from the water creating islands circling a lagoon within.
Not only are coral reefs great for scuba divers to explore but they play an integral role in maintaining a successful habitat for marine life. 71% of our planets surface is covered with ocean. Although coral reef makes up less than 0.5% of the ocean, its estimated that 90% of all marine species are dependent on coral reefs, directly or indirectly.