Category Archives: Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are underwater structures made from calcium carbonate secreted by corals. Corals are colonies of tiny living animals found in marine waters containing few nutrients. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, and are formed by polyps that live together in groups. The polyps secrete a hard carbonate exoskeleton which provides support and protection for the body of each polyp. Reefs grow best in warm, shallow, clear, sunny and agitated waters.

Often called “rainforests of the sea”, coral reefs form some of the most diverse ecosystems on earth. They occupy less than one tenth of one percent of the world ocean surface, about half the area of France, yet they provide a home for twenty-five percent of all marine species, including fish, molluscs, echinoderms and sponges.

Paradoxically, coral reefs flourish even though they are surrounded by ocean waters that provide few nutrients. They are most commonly found at shallow depths in tropical waters, particularly in the Pacific Ocean, but deep water and cold water corals also exist on smaller scales.

Coral reefs deliver ecosystem services to tourism, fisheries and shoreline protection. The annual global economic value of coral reefs has been estimated at $30 billion. However, coral reefs are fragile ecosystems, partly because they are very sensitive to water temperature. They are under threat from climate change, ocean acidification, blast fishing, cyanide fishing for aquarium fish, overuse of reef resources, and harmful land-use practices. High nutrient levels such as those found in runoff from agricultural areas can harm reefs by encouraging excess algae growth.

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Blog Black Coral

Black Coral USGS finds 2,000-year-old coral near BP’s blown out oil well in the Gulf of Mexico By CAIN BURDEAU NEW ORLEANS – Federal scientists say they have dated coral living near the site of the busted BP oil well … Continue reading

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Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Blog Greenpeace Dead Coral

Greenpeace Dead Coral Gulf oil spill: Dead deep-sea corals found near BP well Scientists on a research cruise have found dead and dying deep-sea corals near the site of the massive BP oil leak. Federal officials reported the discovery Thursday, … Continue reading

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Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Blog Coral Reefs

Coral Reefs Gulf oil spill dispersed, though maybe not for good The massive use of dispersant chemicals to break up the Deepwater Horizon oil leak may have prevented more serious harm to Louisiana’s wildlife and wetlands, but the remedy may … Continue reading

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