Coral Reefs

Essay by alydii103High School, 12th gradeB, December 2011

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Period 3


Earth System Science Analysis:

Coral Reefs

CORAL is the Committee on Reef Area Loss. This is a committee that focuses on the problem of coral reef loss. They concern themselves with the fact that biodiversity will be greatly depleted as coral reefs decrease in certain areas. The committee hopes to prevent this biodiversity loss. To do this, they are considering building artificial coral reefs to replace the natural reefs.

When many people hear the words coral reef, they usually think of warm climates, colorful fish, and clear water. However, in actuality, the reef is part of a large and complex ecosystem. The coral community is a system that is made up of many biological communities, together making one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. Corals are often referred to as the "rainforests of the oceans." Corals are actually small animals that belong to the cnidaria group.

Cnidarias include hydras, jellyfish, and sea anemones. Corals are part of a group of animals that are not mobile and stay fixed in one place. They feed by reaching out their tentacles to catch prey. They feed on small fish and plankton like animals. Corals live in groups of many individuals. A single individual of the group is known as a polyp. Corals have a hard calcium carbonate skeleton. These skeletons build up over time and serve as protection for certain species. Most corals sustain a symbiotic relationship with a plant-like algae called zooxanthellae. This algae performs photosynthesis and provides food for the coral. In exchange, the coral provides protection. Coral reefs provide habitats for a wide variety of species. These organisms rely on corals for food and shelter. A loss in coral reef habitat can lead to a dramatic loss of biodiversity. Many scientists are concerned that such...