The Coral Reef Biome
The coral reef biome is found in areas that have shallow, clear water. This biome is located in in four places around the world; the Indo-Pacific, Australia, America, and the African West Coast. The most diverse of these is the reef in Indonesia. They're always from 70-85 Degrees Fahrenheit. They're actually ancient animals related to Jellyfish and anemones, an individual coral is known as a polyp. An organism with a stomach and mouth covered in tentacles. At night the tentacles with sting tiny organisms like plankton and devour them. Thousands of these will grow together making a coral colony.
Symbiodinium is a type of microscopic algae that lives within coral, they give the organism food and help them to grow faster. Because of coral's relationship with this organism coral reefs can only be grown in shallow areas where sunlight can reach them. Most reefs will only go about 150 feet down but some will go as far as 450 feet down.
There are three types of coral reefs: fringing reefs, barrier reefs, coral atolls, and patch reefs. Fringing reefs are found along the coast line they are separated by shallow lagoons. They are the most common type seen. Barrier reefs are found deeper out in lagoons. At their shallowest they can reach the surface of the water therefore forming a barrier and earning them their name. Coral atolls are rings of coral that protect lagoons. They are normally formed when Islands surrounding by fringing reefs sink into the sea.
There are various plants and animals that live within coral reefs. Some plants living there include phytoplankton (plant Plankton), Algae, and sea grass. The plants not only help to keep energy moving along to the animals that live there, but they also allow shelter for animals that call the reef home such as the conch and lobsters.
A few of the animals that live in the coral reef are jellyfish, seahorses, and whales. Jellyfish live there because they feed on fish, coral reefs have an abundance of fish that swim and live there so for the most part they have easy pickings. Seahorses are masters of camouflage, they change color and grow skin filaments to blend in with their surroundings. They're a flagship species meaning that a species selected to act as an ambassador, icon or symbol for a defined habitat, issue, campaign or environmental cause. Coral reefs offer good protection and camouflage to them so it's an ideal place for them to live. Whales, much like jellyfish, feed on animals that live in or near coral reefs.
When coral reefs reproduce it's referred to as spawning eggs and sperm are release simultaneously into the water. When fertilized and egg will release a larvae and this is called brooding. Budding is when is when a young coral grows from an adult version of this larvae. Parthenogenesis is when embryos grow without fertilization. This will result in clones being formed. Sometimes divers will dive down to see this even in progress and it's been described to look as though it's snowing underwater.
Despite the importance of coral reefs, they only take up about 1% of the ocean.