Coral live in the ocean and are a type of plant. One coral can take up to 10,000 years to grow. They are made up of calcium carbonate and many coral polyps. They grow in warm, clear, shallow and sunny water. Zooxanthelle live in the coral polyp and give food and oxegen to the coral. The zooxanthelle takes the carbon dioxide which it needs for respiration and then gives the oxygen to the coral. The coral gives shelter to the zooxanthelle in return.
Types of Coral Reefs
There are three types of reefs. Fringing reefs are the most common and are close to shore. Another kind of reefs are barrier reefs which are farther out in the ocean and don't surround anything. The last kind are atolls which usually surround lagoons. The biggest coral reef is the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. The Great Barrier Reef is about 1,243 miles long. That's a lot!
Did you know that coral reefs eat animals to? Well they do! Zooxanthelle give coral what they need like oxygen, but they also need meat. They eat small stuff like plankton and other small animals using there tendrils. At night, the polyps come out of their skeletons and they wave there tendrils to catch food. The tendrils each have a little capsule with a with something kinda like a sensor. When it senses something in front of it, it launches the capsule that injects it's prey with a venom. It then puts it into its mouth.
Protecting Coral Reefs
Coral reefs are beautiful but unfortunately declining rapidly. Scientist estimate that we have already lost 10%of the worlds coral reefs. Almost all of it is because of humans. Coral reefs are declining because of human pollution, bad tourism, erosion, sewage, over fishing, and more. We need to try to save them because they are very important to the oceans ecosystems and are home to many fish. If coral disappears, many fish will disappear. It would be disastrous! People need to fix this problem before it gets out of hand!
Coral and coral reefs are beautiful and wonderful. They are important to the oceans ecosystems and are fascinating. Without coral reefs, food chains would fall apart. They have been around since the time of the dinosaurs and hopefully be around for centuries to come if we protect them. Long live coral reefs!