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Coral Reefs

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Coral Reefs Corals are Colonial Organisms Almost all corals are colonial organisms. This means that they are composed of hundreds to hundreds of thousands of ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Date added: 3 September 2019
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Title: Coral Reefs


1
Coral Reefs
2
Corals are Colonial Organisms
  • Almost all corals are colonial organisms. This
    means that they are composed of hundreds to
    hundreds of thousands of individual animals,
    called polyps.
  • Corals belong to the phylum, Cnidaria.
  • Each polyp has a stomach that opens at only one
    end.
  • This opening, called the mouth, is surrounded by
    a circle of tentacles.

3
The Polyp
Mouth
Tentacles
Stomach
Stony CaCO3
4
Zooxanthellae
  • Tiny plant cells called zooxanthellae live within
    most types of coral polyps. They provide the
    coral with foods resulting from photosynthesis.

Microscopic algae cells
5
How Corals Grow
  • Stony corals grow when individual polyps lift
    themselves up from the base of the stony cups in
    which they reside, and create a new base above
    it.
  • The skeletons of stony corals are secreted by the
    lower portion of the polyp.

6
How Do Coral Reefs Form?
  • Coral reefs begin to form when free-swimming
    coral larvae attach to submerged rocks or other
    hard surfaces along the edges of islands or
    continents.
  • The polyps gradual secrete CaCO3 and the reef
    grows.

7
Fringing Reefs
Fringing (or apron) reefs directly border
shorelines.
8
Barrier Reefs
Barrier reefs are similar to fringing reefs
except that they are separated from the
shoreline by lagoons that are often deep and
wide.
9
Atolls and Patch Reefs
Atolls are circular-shaped reefs that form on the
rim of submerged volcanic islands patch reefs
are small, isolated formations that are not
attached to a major reef structure.
10
Where Are Reef Building Corals Found?
Reef-building corals are restricted in their
geographic distribution by their physiology.
11
Physiologic Requirements
  • Many grow optimally in water temperatures between
    230 and 290C, but some can tolerate temperatures
    as high as 400C for short periods.
  • Most also require very saline (salty) water
    ranging from 32 to 42 parts per thousand, which
    must also be clear so that a maximum amount of
    light penetrates it.
  • The corals requirement for high light also
    explains why most reef-building species are
    restricted to the euphotic zone, the region in
    the ocean where light penetrates to a depth of
    approximately 70 meters.

12
How Do Corals Reproduce?
  • Many species of stony coral spawn in mass
    synchronized events, releasing millions of eggs
    and sperm into the water at the same time.

13
Importance of Coral Reefs
  • Healthy coral reefs contain thousands of fish and
    invertebrate species found nowhere else on Earth.
  • This biodiversity is considered key to finding
    new medicines for the 21st century. Many drugs
    are now being developed from coral reef animals
    and plants as possible cures for cancer,
    arthritis, human bacterial infections, viruses,
    and other diseases.
  • Coral reefs may provide goods and services worth
    37.5 billion each year.

14
Highest Biodiversity and Species Density
  • Coral reefs support more species per unit area
    than any other marine environment, including
    about 4,000 species of fish, 800 species of hard
    corals and hundreds of other species.

15
Natural Threats to Coral Reefs
  • Corals growing in very shallow water are the most
    vulnerable to environmental hazards. Shallow
    tides can expose them to the air, drying the
    polyps out and killing them. Branching corals
    growing in shallow water can be smashed by storms.

16
Anthropogenic Threats to Corals
  • Human-caused, or anthropogenic activities are
    major threats to coral reefs. Pollution,
    overfishing, destructive fishing practices using
    dynamite or cyanide, collecting live corals for
    the aquarium market and mining coral for building
    materials are some of the many ways that people
    damage reefs all around the world every day.

17
Ship Damage
  • Ships that become grounded on coral reefs may
    cause immediate and long-term damage to reefs.

18
Pollution
  • When some pollutants enter the water, nutrient
    levels can increase, promoting the rapid growth
    of algae and other organisms that can smother
    corals.

Black Band Disease
19
CORAL SMOTHERING "GREEN TIDE" SEAWEEDSPREADING
ON FLORIDA REEFS
  • Jupiter, Fla., Jan. 23 - According to recent
    reports from divers and fishers, the
    coral-smothering non-native seaweed known as
    Caulerpa brachypus has now become so thick on
    reefs in Florida's Palm Beach County, about an
    hour north of Miami, that it is forcing lobsters
    and fish away. The species has also now been
    spotted as far north as Ft. Pierce, Fla., about
    sixty miles away.
  • HARBOR BRANCH Oceanographic Institution, Inc.

20
Caulerpa brachypus
21
What is coral bleaching?
  • Certain types of stressors, such as increased
    sea surface temperatures or toxic exposures to
    oil, can cause coral polyps to lose their
    pigmented zooxanthellae, or to "bleach."
  • Bleaching occurs naturally and is caused by
    various environmental stresses, including
    increased or decreased light, reduced salinity,
    or in the case of mass bleaching, elevated sea
    surface temperatures.

22
  • Bleaching can damage or kill coral, depending on
    the severity and duration of the temperature
    increase, and the sensitivity of the individual
    coral species. Corals can survive mild bleaching,
    as zooxanthellae have some ability to recover,
    but severe bleaching may kill nearly all the
    corals affected. Corals that withstand bleaching
    still suffer reproductive impairment, slowed
    growth, and decreased ability to calcify and
    repair themselves.

23
  • Recent widespread "mass bleaching" events are
    thought to be a relatively new phenomenon. There
    have been six major bleaching events worldwide
    since 1979 the most severe to date destroyed an
    estimated 16 of the world's coral reefs in 1998.
    Hardest hit were reefs in the Indian Ocean,
    Southeast Asia, and the far western Pacific.

24
Coral Bleaching
Example from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
25
Why Should Coral Reefs be Conserved?
26
  • Coral reefs are the home for about 25 of the
    worlds marine species
  • They are highly evolved ecosystems
  • Coral reefs are esthetically pleasing
  • Coral reefs provide major economic benefit(s)
  • They may be a source for beneficial drugs
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