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Importance of Coral Reefs Term Paper

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Updated: Oct 15th, 2021

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Coral reefs are animals that have become ancient and are found in the sea. These ancient animals are said to have evolved to form the reefs. They take along time to evolve and the ones that are available were formed 5,000 to 10,000 years ago. They are said to cover a small portion of the sea and they protect the animals found in the sea. The coral reefs are defined as structures that are produced by dead animals that live in the sea. They develop with low nutrients because high nutrients will kill them. This is because the high nutrients will cause algae to start growing thus suppressing the growth of the coral reefs. The formation of the coral reefs is a complex process because the bones of the fish have to accumulate and breakdown begins. These bones contain calcium carbonate and this facilitates the formation of the head of the coral reef (Anderson, Dennis, 1984).

Other sea animals like the parrotfish and the sponges help in the breakdown into small fragments and settle in the structure of the reef. There are other animals that contribute their skeletons for the formation of the coral reefs. The algae that is found in the sea also helps in reef building because they contain limestone and this is important in the integrity of the reefs. The building of the reefs takes place in photic zone because this zone allows sunlight to penetrate through and the process of photosynthesis occurs. They also have a relationship with the algae that is said to be symbiotic, that is, they benefit from each other. The algae helps the reefs to carry out the process of photosynthesis because ten reefs do not have any green matter. It is said that without this algae the coral reefs cannot or can be formed slower than the expected time of their full maturity. Corals reproduce from time to time both sexually and asexually by external or internal fertilization. The breakdown is facilitated by the movement of the waters in form of waves. The result of the breakdown is beautiful and colorful reef that supports the life of the animals found in the marine.


Most of the coral reefs are found in typical waters and they spread on the bottom ocean. Temperatures do not have any affects of the coral reefs and thus their distribution is wild. Although the temperatures do not affect their growth, they do not grow in temperatures that are less than 18 degrees. There are those reefs that have started to adopt to the environment that is less than that minimum degrees and they are found in Persian gulf. According to research that has been carried out, the coral reefs are distributed in area covering 284,300 square kilometers in the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia and the Pacific. The are not found in America because of the temperatures that are there.

Although these reefs are found in places where there are no nutrients they give support to the animals that are found in the sea. They survive on the nutrients that are recycled in the sea with other organisms. The animals shelter in these coral reefs to avoid predators that exist in the sea. The reefs absorb inorganic matter from the sea like phosphorus and nitrogen from the waters in the sea. They also depend on the mangrove forests for nutrient supply. They also feed the fish in the water. The reefs are the ones that are responsible for the prevention of the strong waves from heating theses trees by providing sediments. The reefs provide homes to thousands of fish that hide to reproduce or feed.

According to scientists there are over 4,000 species of fish that live in these waters. The fish that is found there either inhabit there for the rest of their lives or live there temporarily. There are other organs that are found there which are not fish. The coral reefs have been threatened by the humans over the past years. Other threats that the reefs face are those that are brought about by global warming. Humans pose a threat to them because they carryout activities like over-fishing and digging the sea for the purpose of building islands, destroying mangrove trees and shipping that takes place in the sea. There is research that is being carried out by scientists in order to determine the ways that the threats that are posed by the humans are minimized. Over-fishing is another problem that should be solved. The reason why over-fishing takes place is because the populations of the humans has increased in the recent decades and thus more demand for food. The humans also release pollutants in the sea and this has affected the corals. There are no laws that regulate the pollution of the sea. Global warming has affected the life of the corals because it has cause the temperatures to increase thus affecting the formation of the corals.

The coral reefs are important in the sheltering of the marine animals found the sea. They are said to inhabit most animals in the life of marine and it is usually in a tiny area. This prevents the humans from overfishing and also ensure that the fish increase in population. They also help humans to make money because the reefs are beautiful. They do this by providing tourist attraction sites, they generate sand that is found in the beach and provide free economic services. They are used for attraction and it is said that over 3 million dollars can be collected from the tourism sites. They are also important in controlling the amount of carbon that is in the water and this helps to balance the gases in the water. This is important because it the amount of carbon is not regulated the fish and other organisms in the sea would die because of lack of oxygen (Barnes, 1987).

They do this by turning the carbon dioxide into limestone. The other importance is that they prevent the strong waves from reaching the shores thus they protect the environment from being washed away by the waters, erosion, and loss of property. They also provide food to humans. It is estimated that over one billion people in the world depend on the food that comes from the sea. They do this by providing a nursery where fish can be found and harvested. According to recent research it is projected that coral reefs will be used as source of medicine. This is because the reefs have started to be used as medicine to treat cancer and other ailments. They also have intrinsic value to the communities that live near where they are found (Glynn, et al, 1984).

Types of Coral Reefs

There are various types of coral reefs. One is the fringing type. These are the reefs that form in the coast lines. They are the ones that grow in the shallow waters of the coastlines. They are very young as they develop and are also narrow. Another type is the barrier reef. These reefs are found in the shores but are usually separated by lagoon from the land. They have been given the name because they are a barrier between the sea and the lagoon. They are found in Australia and cover a distance of 2300 kilometers. Coral Atolls is another type of reef that grow on the volcanoes in the sea. When the volcanic activity has taken place it sinks and this is where the atolls grow. They remain after the volcanoes sink in the water. They are mainly formed by the rise of the sea levels other than the sinking islands. There are two categories of the corals, hard coral and soft coral. The hard corals are the ones that are involved in the process of reef building and the soft corals do not develop into full reefs.


Since the reefs have proven to have several importances care should be taken. There is some evidence that the destruction of the coral reefs takes place. Humans are the ones that pose threats to the survival of the coral reefs. They do this by pollution in the sea, removing the coral reefs for sale and sedimentation. The other threat that the reefs are facing is the changes that are taking place in weather. This will affect the survival and the formation. If the weather continues to change there will be no formation of the reefs in future. Destructive fishing practices is also another threat to the corals because humans use dynamites and cyanide that are very dangerous. These threats can be controlled by formation of laws that will be enacted by the countries that are surrounded by the sea (MacLeish, 1973).

The laws will act to reduce overfishing as well as the dangerous fishing habits that are in existent. Another area that should be looked at is the careless tourism that has developed over the years. This include coral mining snorkeling and careless boating. Pollution should be avoided at all costs and this involves banning of releasing any chemicals in the sea. Erosion is another factor that needs to be seriously considered and this is caused by the the building that takes place around and in the sea. The world should be ready to embrace the fight against global warming as this is a threat to the corals.

Works cited

  1. Anderson, Dennis. “Conservation in Grand Cayman. One Island’s Chance to Make it Work.” Oceanus 17 (5), 1984.
  2. Barnes, Robert D. Invertebrate Zoology. Fifth edition. Philadelphia: Saunders College Publishing, 1987.
  3. Glynn, Peter W. and Gerald M. Wellington. Corals and Coral Reefs of the Galapagos Islands. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984.
  4. MacLeish, Kenneth. “Exploring Australia’s Coral Jungle.” National Geographic 143 (6), 1973.
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