Coral Reefs: Facts and Information

Here are some interesting facts about coral reefs.

  • Coral reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems on earth. They are formed by tiny living creatures depositing limestone, or calcium carbonate, which builds up over time.

  • The polyps that form reefs measure between 3 and 56 mm in length. Polyps can live for several hundred years, and many coral reefs are over 50 million years old.
  • Reefs are home to more species of fish and marine life than any other part of the ocean. They are found in three main areas, the Indian Ocean / Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Red Sea.
  • The Great Barrier Reef near Australia is the largest and best known coral reef. It measures over 2,300 km in length and covers an area of 344,000 square km.
  • It is made up of over 3,000 small reefs and islands, some of which have hotels on them. Over 1,500 fish species live on the reef, which is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world.
  • The Belize Barrier Reef located off the coast of Central America is the second largest coral reef. It stretches for 300 km and is home to 500 species of fish and 70 coral species.
  • A coral reef grows about 3 cm in a year, taking many centuries to grow to a large. Most reefs are found in shallow water, less than 60 metres deep.
  • Over 500 million people around the world depend on reefs for their food. Coral reefs are also used to treat heart disease and cancer and for human bone transplants.
  • Coral reefs face constant danger from pollution and changes in climate. Bright sunlight in shallow waters can harm coral and cause the organisms to die.
  • The tiny organisms inside the coral get energy from the sun in the same way as plants. The tiny coral polyps have a limestone skeleton instead of a backbone.

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