The Coral Reef

Coral Reefs, which are known as the Rainforests of the Sea, are home to an amazing variety of plants and animals - some of which are even now probably not known to mankind.

Coral Reefs :

Coral Reefs are the colonies created by the porous limestone skeletons of the Coral Polyps, which are tiny creatures related to the sea anemones. As the Polyps die, new ones grow over their skeletons and thus the colony extends and spreads.

Coral Polyps have sac-like bodies with a central mouth surrounded by tentacles through which ingestion and egestion of food takes place. Coral Polyps share a symbiotic relationship with the Zooxanthellae Algae that they harbor inside them and which are responsible for the colorful appearance of Coral - Zooxanthellae, with the help of Photosynthesis, provides the Polyps with much-needed Oxygen and Food while the Polyps in turn provide the Algae with the waste that they need for growth. As Sunlight is the main requirement for photosynthesis and thereby this relationship, Coral Reefs can be found only in areas where the water is clear and transparent enough for sunlight to penetrate.

Places where Coral Reefs occur and the Different Types of Reefs :

Coral Reefs are found mainly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn in regions where the warm sea currents occur and the usual temperatures are between 21 - 30 °C. Places where Coral Reefs are found - Eastern Coast of Africa, Southern Coast of India, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, China, the Red Sea, the North-East and North-West Australian Coasts, Polynesia, the Florida Keys, the Caribbean, Brazil, Belize.

The following four major types of Reefs are seen in these regions :

Fringing Reefs - These occur, as the name suggests, directly on the fringes of the shoreline.

Barrier reefs - These are separated from the shoreline by deep lagoons.

Atoll Reefs - These are the reefs found on the raised brims of underwater volcanoes.

Patch Reefs - These are small, unattached, and isolated formations.

The Great Barrier Reef on Australia's North-Eastern Coast measures over 2000 kms and is the largest Reef in the World.

Importance of Coral Reefs :

Coral Reefs are called the Rainforests of the Sea. This is because they are home to an amazingly vast variety of plants and animals - some of which are even now probably not known to mankind. Aside from the environmental importance of this diverse ecosystem, Coral Reefs are of great economic interest as they provide valuable and much-needed sources of food, medicine, and other daily use products.

They also promote income sources for the Tourism Industry - Diving Tours, Shops, Hotels, Restaurants, and other such related businesses.

Coral Reefs protect the shorelines from eroding by absorbing the impact of the stronger, more destructive waves. Much of the Florida Keys would be underwater now if it weren't for the Coral Reefs surrounding its shorelines. Reefs also provide shelters ports, harbors as well as for the economically viable coastal wetlands.

Coral Reefs absorb Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere and help reduce Global Warming.

Creatures of the Coral Reefs :

More than 5000 varieties of Marine Creatures and 2500 varieties of Coral are found in Coral Reefs. Algae and Seagrasses are the two main types of plants found.

Some of the creatures found in the Coral Reef are - Anemones, Sponges, Blacktip Reef Sharks, Epaulet Sharks, Zebra Sharks, Octopus, Squids, Dwarf Seahorses, the Chambered Nautilus, Clownfish, Parrot Fish, Angelfish, Square Spot Fish, Blue Tang Fish, Scorpion Fish, Yellow-headed Jawfish, Zebra Morays, Giant Clams, Xantid Crabs, Sea Worms, Sea Urchins, Jelly fish, Oysters, Turtles, Crown-of-Thorns Starfish, Cone Snails, the Giant Triton Shell, Shrimps, Lobsters, Sea Cucumbers, and Cleaner Wrassers.

Some of the different types of Corals found are - Brain Coral, Staghorn Coral, and Elkhorn Coral, which are hard, reef-building Corals. Sea Finger and Sea Whips are soft, non-reef-building corals.

All of these organisms live in mutual interactions with one another and produce an extraordinary variety of chemicals for attracting prey, for distracting or destroying predators, for reproducing, and for numerous other purposes. Many of these chemicals can be utilized by the Pharmaceutical Industry for manufacturing new drugs to treat AIDS, Cancer, and other diseases.

Threats to the Coral Reefs :

Coral Reefs are very delicate structures and are unfortunately very susceptible to damage. If sunlight or other conditions are not favorable, the Zooxanthellae cannot photosynthesize and stand to be expelled by the stressed Coral Polyps - the polyps, in turn, cannot survive without the Zoonxanthellae and turn white as they die out. This is called bleaching. Sometimes Coral Polyps survive from effects of bleaching, but since they are extremely slow-growing organisms, it takes a very long time for the reef to recover. Sometimes, in cases of vast scale damage, there is no chance of recovery and as a result the entire ecosystem of creatures depending upon them for survival is wiped out.

Storms are especially hazardous to Coral Reefs, but in the present age Man-made dangers pose a larger and deadlier threat. Some of these are - Overfishing, Uncontrolled Coastal Development, Water Pollution, Sedimentation, Dredging, Dynamiting, Spearfishing, Oil Spills, Ship Wrecks, Boat Anchors. Diving Tourism has also not always helped matters as often many divers show little concern for the reefs or their inhabitants and destroy them by touching with hands or diving equipment. The Pet Trade for the exotic Reef Fish has also negatively affected the health of Coral Reefs.

Given the present rate of destruction, it is very apparent that we will lose more than 70 % of the Coral Reefs in the next ten years. This in turn will give rise to grave consequences, both ecologically and economically.

Conservation Efforts :

Coral Reefs can only be saved if more and more people are made aware of both their importance and the dangers posed, and if the Coral resources are used in sustainable ways, without degradation and over-exploitation.

In recent times, to mention two positive examples, the people of Ambergris Caye in Belize and of Kenting in Taiwan have woken up to the need for conservation and are working on preserving the coral reefs in their areas.

Medicines from the Coral Reef Ecosystem

Humans have been attempting to understand and use oceanic resources since ancient times. Coral Reef products have been traditionally used for treating various ailments in Taiwan, Japan, China, and India. In Europe, where the comparatively deep-water coral reefs remained unexplored until later ages, the benefits of Coral and Coral Organisms became known only in the ninth century with the westward spread of Islam; the invading Asiatic Muslims brought with them highly sophisticated Medical knowledge and methods thus far unknown to the Europeans. The Persian Philosopher Al-Kindi, writing in 830 A.D., mentions the use of Coral in his book "Medical Formulary", and in Penaranda de Duero in Spain, where the world's oldest pharmacy was established in 1685 and has now been turned into a Museum, jars of powdered Coral are displayed and its various health advantages are documented in the reference book "Palestra Farmaceutica Quimico-Alencia" written in 1792 by Felix Palacios. The nineteenth century oversaw an extraordinary advance in marine research; in one instance, a Scientist named Dr. Bottard, who was researching the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, actually injected himself with Stone-fish poison to study the paralysis caused by the toxin! These days, with high-tech methods available for chemical analysis, researchers fortunately don't have to go to such lengths. Marine Pharmacology, in its modern form, has gained in scope and importance with technological and medical advances and the need for newer, more effective treatments.

Modern medicines are manufactured from a wide-ranging variety of chemicals that are usually obtained from divergently placed natural sources. In recent times, marine sources have begun to take precedence over the terrestrial ones as the former produce relatively more kinds of the required chemicals and, as in the case of Coral Reefs, these can all be obtained from the same area. Coral Reefs are among the most biologically varied ecosystems on Earth and are home to incredibly diverse kinds of plants and animals that live together in mutually beneficial relationships. Amongst them probably, even now, are certain species that haven't even yet been discovered!

Apart from Corals, which have Calcium and 74 other life-enhancing minerals, some of the Coral Reef organisms that hold special importance for the Pharmaceutical Companies are invertebrates like Sponges, Tunicates, Bryozoans, and Octocorals that are permanently attached to some surface. Since they are immobile, it becomes necessary for them to produce chemicals for either attracting prey or repelling predators, for reproducing, and many other purposes. Many of these chemicals have been found to have important antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties, and are therefore highly sought.

Formerly, large numbers of marine organisms were required to obtain very small amounts of the needed chemicals and Corals too were indiscriminately harvested. In both cases, this badly affected their marine population and thereby the delicate Reef ecosystem. Nowadays, fortunately, this isn't necessary. Genetic engineering has made it possible to extract the required DNA from a minuscule tissue sample. This DNA is then cloned and produces the necessary chemical in greater amounts. It is also now possible to grow aquacultures of some organisms in laboratories. This is good news for the marine ecology as well as medical research. However many bio-active marine products are extremely complex and will require still more research before they can be prepared artificially.

The marine chemical extracts, before being cleared for medical purposes, are first tested for effectiveness on animals. If the extract can competently reduce inflammations or kill cancer cells or do whatever is expected, it is then tried out on humans. If it proves as beneficial here and shows no toxic side effects, it stands a chance of going into commercial production. All this is a very long, expensive process.

At present, marine chemical extracts like histamines, hormones, antibiotics, and secosteroids have helped create drugs like AZT, Ara-A, Ara-C, and Dolostatin 10, which combat AIDS, Cancer, Asthma, Arthritis, and Inflammatory Disorders. They are also proving beneficial for people with heart, kidney, and liver transplants. Corals have been used in human bone-grafting and Cone Snail poison has been used to produce a painkiller.

It is necessary to develop new, more effective drugs as many diseases have unfortunately become resistant to commonly used drugs. With over 7000 potentially useful marine species being currently studied by scientists, Marine pharmaceutical research offers promising possibilities. In the next few years, it may be possible to avail of new therapeutic drugs for treating or, hopefully, even curing life-threatening illnesses like AIDS and Cancer. For such benefits, however, the underwater medicine chest must first be adequately protected and conserved.

Coral Reefs: Coral Plants and Animals

Coral Plants and Animals

A home to millions of coral plants and animals, coral reefs are amongst the most biologically diverse regions on Mother Earth. Here's a look at how coral reefs play an important part in the biogeochemical cycle.

There is another world that exists apart from our lives. I am talking about a life beneath the deep blue seas, a life that holds mysteries and new discoveries for mankind. Also a life that humans tend to infiltrate, and sometimes for the wrong reasons.

Coral reefs have been around for the last 25 million years and are now almost endangered. They are a result of the production that has occurred all these years. Coral reefs provide a habitat for numerous other sea creatures. Let us take a look at how coral reefs are amongst the most diverse and productive communities on Mother Earth.

Coral Reefs:
For the last 25 million years, coral reefs are amongst the most biologically diverse regions on Earth. Often a mystery, coral reefs were called an animal, a plant animal or a plant. Corals are actually a result of a combination of plant and animal life. It contains microscopic structures of plants known as algae. These live within the corals.

Algae that live within the corals are called zooxanthellae. The tiny animals called polyps, which are connected by a living tissue actually constitute the corals. The polyps only exist in the uppermost area of the coral reef. A reef is a structure found in the shallow parts of the ocean. (This serves as a home to animals and plants). Sunken ships are also known to have turned into reefs. As one sees new layers of the reef being built, these polyps with their algae soon depart. And every time we can see new layer of the reef structure.

Coral reefs are categorized into three types:
Barrier reefs- Barrier reefs grow parallel to the shoreline. They are separated by water from the mainland.
Fringing reefs- Fringing reefs are permanent with the landmass.
Atolls- Atolls are islands. These are made of coral surrounding a central lagoon.

Coral Reef Plants:
The main types of plants that are found in the coral reef environment are basically algae and seagrasses. These are the most important element in the entire reef ecosystem. The algae can range in various sizes. They can be simple plants such as the zooxanthellae or the common known seaweeds. Seaweeds are multicellular branching forms. These provide food to the corals through photosynthesis.

The multicellular algae are divided into two types-
Coralline Algae:
These spread out in thin layers over the surface. They are made of masses of very fine thread like filaments and these filaments produce calcium carbonate, which in turn gives these algae a rock -like appearance. These are very important to stabilize the coral reef structure.

Calcareous Algae:
These produce calcium carbonate (limestone) and are known to grow erect. The limestone in turn produces the sand that is found on the beaches when these degenerate.

The seagrass beds are flowering plants. These provide shelter to sea creatures such as the conch or the lobsters. Tiny organisms are also known to live in their leaves. The rhizomes or the stems of the sea grass (with roots attached) anchor the plant. They also keep the seawater clean as they trap large amounts of sediments. They play a very important role in preventing beach erosion.

Coral Reef Animals:
Coral reefs house at least 25% of life in the ocean. Animals use these as a shelter and these also are a prime source of food for them. Corals are mainly associated with sea anemones, sea jellies, sea urchins, sponges, worms, rays, lobsters, snails etc. Corals are themselves seen in a variety of colors like blue or brown. This is because of the presence of zooxanthellae within their tissues. This leads to the natural pigmentation, which in turn gives the color to the corals.

Today, we can see massive deterioration of the coral reefs. The causes however are uncertain. Experts have proven the coral reefs are beneficial and they are also an important part of the ecosystem. Coral reefs are also used as a part of various medicines for treatment of specific ailments. But with the constant destruction of the coral reefs, the scientists have now warned the next few years may see us lose these beautiful structures. Irresponsible human activities that lead to pollution, erosion and causes global warming are the main reasons behind their disappearance.

Saving the Corals and Coral Reefs

Today, with rapid destruction of the coral reefs, it is time you take a breather from your busy schedule and know how you can make a difference. Saving the corals and the coral reefs can be achieved even if you are miles away from the coastal line. Here are some ways you can use to help the environment.

Coral reefs are facing many threats by mankind. Sometimes humans cause intentional and even unintentional damage to the corals and the coral reefs without ever realizing the effects of the actions. Corals are a substance that is constituted from the remains of the polyps. One can generally find two kinds of corals beneath the sea- hard coral and the soft coral. The millions of coral polyp shells form the structure of the coral reef. The coral reef is composed not only of the millions of such structures but it also houses living organisms like algae, sponges, marine plants, fish etc.

Zooxanthellae is a kind of an algae that lives inside the corals. These are very essential for the survival of the coral reefs. They also add to the beauty of the corals, as zooxanthellae are also responsible for the attractive color of the corals. Even the common seaweeds are important to the corals as they provide the food through the process of photosynthesis.

Coral reefs can only thrive in a congenial environment. They need ample sunlight; narrow range of the temperature of the water and the salinity of the water should be around 34-37 parts per thousand. Shallow waters are the areas where we see these reefs thrive successfully, as the algae need to perform the photosynthesis. This is definitely not possible in deeper waters.

What is leading to the destruction of these coral reefs?

Man plays the major role in this case. Nature also has her own part to play. Sometimes, the hurricanes and such storms destroy a major portion of these reefs. A lot of marine animals such as the starfish even eat into the corals. The prime destruction of the coral reefs has been due to mankind. Global warming and the increase of pollution levels have created a lot of damage to these reefs.

The unhealthy fishing habits of humans are one of the prime reasons for the damage caused. There are many areas that still use an illegal process of blast fishing (Explosives that are sent into the coral reefs) and this causes harm to not only the coral reefs but also the other living organisms around. Fishermen also employ the use of spears and sometimes, it is this excess fishing that creates an imbalance in the natural food chain. Cyanide fishing is also another harmful practice employed by fishermen. Here the divers squeeze the cyanide into the crevices of the reefs. This in turn, stuns the fish making them an easier prey to the humans.

The increase in the pollution levels are also a prime concern to scientists all over the globe. Pollution affects the reefs in many ways one can ever imagine. For example, oil spills pollutes the water, which in turn enters the reefs through the corals. Once the polyps are affected, the entire reef faces damage. Waste products and the dumping of these in the seawater have contaminated the oceans. This can sometimes result in the over growth of algae. An excess of algae covering the reef causes the lesser intake of oxygen. The increase in the levels of the carbon dioxide in the water has made the coral structures weaker. This makes the reef more vulnerable.

The coral reefs are home to many other marine animals. They also are a major source of food. Humans need to understand while purchasing coral souvenirs, that these are also a major cause of the damage being caused to the coral reefs. Tourism has had a devastating effect on the coral reefs as these are being stripped of their natural cover to satisfy the increasing greed of the human race.

Global warming has now resulted in the rising temperatures of the ocean waters. Corals need lower temperatures for their food process. Any changes in the climate cause a loss of the algae covering the reefs. When the algae are unable to produce food from the process of photosynthesis, the reefs have to face ‘coral bleaching’. The coral bleaching is evident when the major area of the reefs turns white in color.

Saving the Corals and the Coral Reefs:

You can make a difference to the environment with every step you take. The coral reefs and Mother Earth would benefit largely if you follow some of these simple steps listed below:
When you operate a boat, ensure you have checked the engine equipment to avoid oil and gas spills. Also navigate the boat carefully to prevent any damage to the reefs.
When you go to your favorite restaurant for sumptuous seafood delights, ensure you avoid those items that are caught through illegal practices and usage of illegal equipment.
Try to use the public transport available or find other alternatives to travel (carpool) that would help in reducing the levels of pollution.
Be aware of the usage of water. Water is precious so use every drop with care. This is very important, as the less usage of water will reduce the amount of wastewater being dumped into our oceans.
When you feel the need to snorkel or scuba dive, ensure the authenticity of the operators. Make sure you gather information about them and know if they are aware and care for the coral reefs and the measures they undertake to preserve it. Most operators are out to make a quick buck so ensure you support only those people who are aware of their responsibilities towards the sea.
Plant a tree to reduce the rising temperatures caused by global warming.
As a tourist, you must be completely aware to avoid giving encouragement to those outlets that sell illegal souvenirs. There is only one way to put an end to this practice- Stop buying such souvenirs.
You too can help in the clean up of the coastal line. Avoid littering the beaches and support local groups that are actively involved in these causes.
Remember, you alone can make a difference. Every effort from your side can go a long way in saving the coral reefs.

Palau, the Coral Reef Paradise

Considered one of the seven wonders of the natural world, the crystal clear and wonderfully warm water of Palau makes home to one of the most biologically diverse coral reefs in the world!

This is the home of over 1,500 species of fish and there have been over 700 different species of coral reefs recorded in this magic place. Coral reefs take a long time to grow and as they grew over time, geological forces pushed some of the coral reefs up out of the water and they can still be seen today, it is quite a wonder to behold; being pushed up out of the water did not stop the coral reefs for long, because new colonies were soon started that repopulated the underwater slopes.

These days, Palau is the place to go if you want to put in some first-class underwater diving, God really knew what He was doing when He created the underwater reefs of Palau! There is probably nothing more moving then seeing the wonder and detailed beauty of the Creator's hand. Because we people have the tendency to associate things that we do not quite understand with things from our everyday lives, when a diver swims across the reef he will see gardens of gorgeous wild flowers, and trees and bushes that come in almost every color; it is enough to take a person's breath away.

Some of the most graceful fish in the world call this magic wonderland home, among them is the yellow Butterfly fish, the blue-headed wrasses and even the emperor black next to these exotic beauties is the puffer fish; did you know that he can inflate his spiny body up to the size of a football? There is also the remarkable looking trunkfish.

Something else that you can find here is the thing that used to be shown as a real sea is the giant clams that can reach a size of up to three feet long. Old timer movies used to show these clams off as monsters that would grad diver's feet and hold them under the water in an attempt to drown them. This is not true, however, because these sweet big giants eat nothing more than plankton and really do not care about the divers anymore then they wonder how many stars are in the sky. Another curiosity is the red and green brittle stars, these fascinating little creatures have arms that can break off at the slightest bit of pressure, this is a great protection against predators.

Other fish that like to have some of the reefs' fish for dinner are the sharks; these awesome predators come to the reef attracted to the wide variety of fish that is on the menu for them. Some other giants that come in are the manta-rays and the sea-rays, these huge creatures have wingspans of several feet and have little to worry from sharks or other predators.

Something besides the reef that is worth visiting is the Jelly-fish lake, visibility is very poor and the water is green and quite warm , but in this lake people have the opportunity to swim with jellyfish without fear of being stung. These Jelly fish do not have any stingers because there are no predators in the lake that are interested in them, what an experience, to be able to go home and say that you were able to swim with jelly fish!

Not everything is bright and cheerful at the islands of Palau, live reef fisheries have moved into the area, this is where foreign fisherman come in; they are working for some company or another and select a target fish and then totally exhaust the fish supply in that particular area, whole populations of fish have been wiped out because of this reckless and thoughtless act. This not only has a deep impact on the underwater food chain, but also it deprives native fisherman of the one thing that enabled them to make a livelihood for themselves and their family. In only a matter of months the whole breeding population of the target species can be wiped out, and that particular species can take a very long time to repopulate if they manage at all. This can be devastating to the coral reefs and it can be devastating to Palau and the people that live there.

God gave us this planet to watch over and take care of, I am not against fishing, it just needs to be done within reason, and with the good of the local economy in mind. Two things that live reef fishing does not do.

Coral Calcium Health Benefits

Coral calcium is derived from the coral reefs around the world, especially off the coast of Okinawa, Japan. Marketers claim that there are numerous coral calcium health benefits, but the accuracy of these claims is debatable as there is insufficient amount of evidence to substantiate these claims.
Coral calcium certainly has some very interesting characteristics and properties, and it is very difficult to ignore the many claims that are regularly made about the health benefits of coral calcium. There are many people who advocate the use of coral calcium, and swear by the healing and preventive traits that coral calcium health benefits are said to possess.

Coral calcium health benefits were primarily advocated by Dr. Robert Barefoot, as he conducted a great amount of research on the subject. His claims are that the alkalinity of coral calcium helps the human body in many different ways, and it is a great tool for fighting off a number of diseases and illnesses that are caused in the body due to a deficiency of calcium. The maximum amount of coral calcium is obtained from the coral reefs off the coast of Okinawa, Japan, and Dr. Barefoot regularly points out the great healthiness and long lifespans of the people living in the surrounding area, as evidence of coral calcium health benefits. Also read about coral plants and animals.

What is Coral Calcium?
Coral calcium is simply layers of calcium that are derived from the coral reefs that are found on ocean floors. Since corals are relatively rare and require many centuries to grow, it is illegal to harvest the coral calcium from the coral reefs itself. Instead, the calcium is obtained from the limestone deposits that have detached themselves from the main coral reef and have risen to the surface of the water.

The primary constituent of coral calcium is calcium carbonate, and there are minute traces of other minerals like magnesium in it as well. The health benefits of calcium are well-known all across the world, and coral calcium health benefits are no different from these. It is strongly claimed though, that these supposed enhanced health benefits of coral calcium are simply exaggerated and hyped up, and that it is all just a marketing gimmick.

Coral Calcium Health Benefits
At present there is a raging debate about the health benefits that coral calcium genuinely possess. The people who propagate the use of coral calcium claim that the ratio of the trace minerals, magnesium and calcium in coral calcium is perfectly suited to the human body. They also say that coral calcium enables the body to successfully absorb other minerals that the body requires. Read more on facts about calcium.

But there is also a constantly growing school of thought that refutes these claims of the health benefits of coral calcium. They claim that all these benefits are not true, and are simply exaggerated gimmicks. This could be true as well, but let's have a further look at the so-called coral calcium health benefits.
Helps boost the immune system of the human body.
Like regular calcium, coral calcium strengthens the teeth and the bones in the body.
The balance of calcium, magnesium and trace minerals in coral calcium is perfectly suited to the requirements of the human body.
Coral calcium cleanses out the internal organs of the body like the kidneys, liver, intestines, etc. and also helps in the breaking down process of heavy metals inside the body.
Coral calcium helps regulate the pH level in the body.
Many claim that coral calcium also acts as a great form of alternative treatment and cure for many heart diseases and even works against cancer.
Increases the body's ability to heal and repair any damage suffered on the tissues.
Helps prevent around 200 diseases that are related to a deficiency of calcium in the body.
For women it is even claimed that coral calcium helps reduce the severity of PMS symptoms.

Importance of Coral Reefs

he importance of coral reefs, one of the most precious marine habitat, needs to be highlighted in the scenario of increasing threats of global warming, so that timely action can be taken to maintain the ecological balance of aquatic life.
If you frequently watch Discovery channel or the National Geographic channel, you would have seen the mystic world in the oceans and sea. The world under the sea is beautiful and mesmerizing. It's a totally different world, containing innumerable marine habitat and sustaining life of colorful aquatic animals. Wish if I could be a sea diver someday and could dive into the sea to watch this spectacular miracle of mother Nature!! Anyway, as we all are connected by Nature, the marine life contributes significantly in maintaining the Earth's ecological balance. One of the major habitats of aquatic life are the coral reefs. The ecological importance of coral reefs has been discussed in the following paragraphs.

What are Coral Reefs?

Coral reefs are often hailed as the rainforests of the sea and for anyone, who doesn't have much knowledge or awareness about zoology or biology subjects, coral reefs can be termed as a type of living, marine organisms which secrete calcium carbonate, over a long period of time, to form a hard outer skeletal covering. Did you get it? No? Well, many people assume coral reefs to be plants or rocks, however they are the polyps who grow along in large groups and in large areas. Now, if you know something about zoology, then you'll understand that polyps are tiny, cylindrical marine habitats. For layman, coral reefs can be best understood to be a group of polyps that grow together. Similar to shellfish, they're invertebrates and have no internal bones. Coral reefs can reproduce either sexually or asexually. Fringing reefs, barrier reefs and coral atolls are the three main types of coral reefs. Now, without going much into the technical details of what are coral reefs, let's understand the importance of coral reefs as their life is important for the Earth's survival.

Why are Coral Reefs Important?

Not only do coral reefs make their own ecosystem, many other organisms also depend on coral reefs for life and shelter. Humans, too can't survive without an ecosystem.

Sustaining Tropical Marine Ecosystems
Coral reefs form an important part of the tropical marine biology. The coral reefs maintain a balance of life with the mangrove and sea grass ecosystems near the coastal shores. Many marine creatures spend their lives in moving from mangrove ecosystems to sea grass beds and then coral reefs, thereby transferring nutrients and connecting life. Mangrove trees are known to grow to a height of 15 meters and their roots are always in proximity to the shores. The root systems serve as a source of underground water ecosystem for marine animals. Sea grass beds are found in totally shallow bays. The coral reefs lying at the bottom, protect the mangrove trees and sea grass beds from erosion by the waves.

Primary Producers
In the 'circle of life', humans along with every other organism plays a significant role, coral reefs aren't an exception. According to biologists, primary productivity is described as the storing of organic and inorganic compounds by the process of photosynthesis. Like trees and plants are known to reduce our carbon levels, corals also help in reducing the effects of CO2. Coral reefs support the food chain by being a food for tropical fish and other marine animals that serve as food for animals, higher in the food chain. This maintains the balance of the ecosystem.

I'm so much in awe and love with the beauty of the coral reefs, that I'm afraid to include tourism as an importance of coral reefs. For the hearts of men are corrupt and it has depleted Nature innumerable times in the name of tourism. Nonetheless, coral reef destinations are recognized as the biggest tourist attractions, especially on islands like Maldives and Jamaica who totally depend on coral reefs for their economy. Not surprising that the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the world's largest coral reef ecosystem (do visit it, if you ever get a chance to go Australia!) garners a USD 1 billion profit from it. Thanks to the UN, it has been declared a World's Heritage Site and so, it is preserved and taken care of. Though coral reef tourism is believed to be an alternative source of income for the poor coastal communities, none can guarantee how long will the poor countries be able to preserve these beautiful sites.

Coastal Protection
The disastrous hurricanes and tsunamis that sweep off life and property, in the blink of an eye, are lessened in their impact by coral reefs. Yes, coral reefs are known to break the power of waves and reduce their intensity, thereby protecting coastal areas from destruction. Coral reefs can be called nature's defense mechanism to prevent coastal soil erosion and flooding.

The fishing industry and the common income source for the fishermen in the coastal areas is heavily dependent on the coral reefs. The coral reefs provide shelter, nutrition and habitat to almost a quarter of the world's fish!! Think how valuable is this contribution when it comes to the national, international and local fisheries market.

Medicinal Research
A major breakthrough in the treatment of HIV infections is the medicine AZT that is based on the chemicals found in sponge reefs in the Caribbean and it highlights the potential of medicinal value of coral reefs. Pharmaceutical companies have targeted coral reefs for medicines on cancer and other terminal diseases.

Cultural Significance
If you've watched the recent Oscar nominated movie Avatar, then you must have got the message of the movie; 'Men, enough of greed, stop exploring other lives just for some parochial needs, let life sustain, in what form it is, no matter wherever it is'. Just like people worshiped trees in the movie, coral reefs are worshiped as life sustaining organisms in innumerable cultures around the world. Most significant are the islands of Fiji, where coral reefs and their waters are thanked through ceremonies and prayers. In Fiji, the traditional reef management system has worked wonders and has sustained marine habitat ever since its existence. For Fiji, coral reefs are a symbol of life and reverence and same is true for many other cultures around the world!!

Threats to Coral Reefs

While efforts to develop artificial coral reefs are appreciated in many parts of the world, the problems that are faced by the coral reefs need timely response from the human fraternity. The threats to coral reefs are as follows
Rising sea water temperature owing to global warming causes "bleaching" of the coral reefs and ultimately their death.
Unchecked coastal development leading to "stress" on coral reef habitat.
Sea pollution destroying the agility and lives of coral reefs.
Over fishing and poor fishing practices damaging the balance of underwater ecosystems.
Natural events in the forms of hurricanes, cyclones and tsunamis.
Uncontrolled and improper diving practices in oceanic regions.
You may
Coral Reefs: Plants and Animals
Saving the Coral and the Coral Reefs
The importance of reefs is nowadays increasingly highlighted in newspapers and science journals and people are becoming aware of the crucial role they play in our lives. At an individual level, at least, we should try to make people aware of the importance of coral reefs and must make certain changes in our lifestyle that helps in significantly reducing global warming affects. That's the least, we can do for saving our planet. Hope, this article gave you a brief insight into the importance of coral reefs.

Coral Reef Facts

Coral reefs are marine ridges formed by coral skeletons, mainly composed of calcium carbonate. This article will shed light on some amazing coral reef facts. Read on...

Despite the advancements in, a lot from the marine ecosystem still stays unexplored. Also, there are many interesting oceanic facts that continue to perplex us till date. Ocean biomes and oceanic currents, marine plants, sunken ships, types of fish and many more things about the sea fascinate us. But one more thing that might leave you amazed are the corals and the coral reefs.

Let us have a look at some coral reef facts and information. The coral reefs are found in shallow, warm water only, where the temperature of water is mostly constant throughout the year. Have you ever wondered what exactly are these coral reefs made up of? The coral reefs are made up of as many as thousands of corals, and when this coral dies, it leaves behind the calcium carbonate skeleton. Further, the cycle starts again when the young ones attach themselves to the old skeleton. And so on, every generation builds up themselves on the prior generation. But what are corals? The coral reefs are made up of the actual animals called polyp (the physical part of the animal). This polyp is column shaped, and it attaches itself to the reef floor. Its top end extends into the water, being able to move freely. And like this, when thousands of polyp entwine, they form a colony, that is which forms a reef.

Facts About Coral Reefs

Here are some randomly arranged coral reef facts.
Coral reefs are the largest living structures on our planet.
Coral reefs cover less than 1% of the earth's surface but in spite of this fact they are a home to 25% of all the species of the marine fish. Isn't this one great coral reef fact?
The term 'coral' refers to a number of different animals like the soft corals, hard corals, whip corals, sea pens, organ pipe coral, black coral, etc.
A coral grows in a single, stable spot and grows there for the rest of its life.
They are the oldest ecosystems present on the planet.
Most of the coral reefs are located in the Pacific ocean.
Almost 500 people all over the world are relying on the coral reef for their livelihood and most importantly, food.
Around the world, coral reefs provide more than $350 billion per year regarding the goods and services, but is just an estimated price.
Coral reefs protect the shorelines, that are nearby, from the eroding forces of the sea, agricultural land, coastal dwellings, beaches, and the eroding forces by the sea, in the form of natural barriers.
If the coral reefs weren't there, Florida would be under water.
Scientists working off the coast of Bahia (state in Brazil), have discovered a vast region of previously coral reefs that were unknown.
Scientists studying the coral reef species off the coast of Australia have found over 300 species of soft corals.
Coral reefs are being also used for treating cancer, HIV, ulcers and cardiovascular diseases.
The porous limestone of the coral has been used for the bone grafts for humans.
The Great Barrier Reef is located in Queensland, Australia (north-east), is the largest coral reef in the world. This coral reef is made up of 3,000 small reefs and it covers 350,000 square kilometers and was found 500,000 years ago.
Researches say that, taking into consideration the present condition, if the rate of destruction continues, almost 70% of the worlds' coral reef will be destroyed by the year 2050, so it is necessary to save the coral and the coral reefs.

These were some coral reef facts. Coral bleaching and a lot of water pollution is harming the coral reef at an alarming rate, which results in the coral reef destruction. Help save the coral reef, since they are the colorful pillars of this aquatic ecosystem.

Coral Reef Information

Coral reefs are among the most fascinating facets of marine habitat. This article can provide you with some interesting and amazing coral reef information.

Coral reefs are those sea structures that are produced by living animal colonies. These structures are made of carbonate material secreted by colonial polyps. In most coral reefs, stony corals are mainly responsible in building the hardy structures, as they secrete an exoskeleton made of calcium carbonate. This forms the main structure of the coral reefs. Apart from the stony corals, coralline algae and some other sponges secrete calcium carbonate and silica respectively. This also makes the structure stronger. Coral reefs are one of the most diverse ecosystems on the earth and shelter around 25% of marine species, like, mollusks, fishes, echinoderms, sponges, etc. Another interesting coral reef information is that these sea structures occupy around 1% of the whole ocean surface on the earth. Let us take a look at some amazing coral reefs information. 

Coral Reef Formation

Now, you know the basic coral reef information regarding their formation by the exoskeleton of stony or hard polyps. A type of brown algae called zooxanthellae lives in the tissue of these polyps and help them in secreting calcium carbonate. It is the presence of these algae, that gives the greenish hue to the corals. However, once the corals expels this algae, the coral turn white which may be due to reasons, like, diseases, high temperatures, change in the salinity of water, etc. This is known as coral bleaching, which results in the death of the coral. A coral polyp with hard exoskeleton is often referred to as coral, which can vary in size. A colony of such polyps, along with other organisms form coral reefs. Waves and boring organisms can break down fragments from the corals, but, these fragments also settle down in the spaces within the reef structure. Coral reefs are considered as one of the most diverse ecosystems on the earth, as numerous marine species have shelter in this sea structure. This includes around 4000 species of tropical fish, crustaceans, sponges, turtles, sea snakes, snails, mollusks, etc. There are around 1000 species of corals, that are differently-shaped. Read more on coral reef facts.

Coral Reef Types

Let's take a look at the coral reefs information regarding their types and characteristics. Coral reefs are found in both temperate and tropical waters, but, mostly in the tropics. They are found to develop in shallow and warm tropical waters. There are various types of coral reefs, but, the most important ones are fringing reef, atoll reef and barrier reef. The fringing reefs are mostly found to be attached to the shore and form along the coastline. Barrier reefs grow parallel to the coastline, but, far from the shore. These reefs are separated from the mainland by a lagoon. They are known as barrier reefs, as they form a barrier between the lagoon and the sea. Atoll reefs are like rings of coral reefs that surround lagoons. They are roughly circular and extend through the circumference of the lagoon. There are some other types of coral reefs, like, bank reef, ribbon reef, table reef, patch reef, apron reef, etc. 

Another interesting piece of information on coral reef is that while most of the existing coral reefs are found in the tropical waters, around 90% of these sea structures are found in the Indo-Pacific region. While the Great Barrier Reef of Queensland, Australia is the largest one in the world, the second largest is the Belize Barrier Reef of Mexico. The third largest coral reef in the world is the Bahamas Barrier Reef of Andros Island, Bahamas. In short, coral reefs are the most diverse ecosystems in the world and is threatened by various factors, like, human intervention, global warming, etc. Apart from being biologically diverse, coral reefs have economic value, as they are used in making medicines. Most of these sea structures are around 10,000 years old, but is facing deterioration. Now, you have some of the basic coral reef information. If you are interested in gaining some more coral reefs information, you may conduct an in-depth study about these amazing sea structures.

Mushroom Coral

Mushroom Coral

Vivid colored and beautiful, mushroom corals are popularly kept in reef aquariums. The basic requirements for maintaining healthy mushroom coral are indirect light, low water current and low organic nutrients.

Mushroom coral is an attractive and hardy type of coral, excellent for novice aquarists. With a short talk and a crown like cap, it resembles the fungus mushroom, hence the name. Also known as mushroom anemone or corallimorph, it thrives well in a regular reef aquarium setup. It is available in shades of red, brown, purple, blue and green. Exotic multicolored patterns are observed in form of stripes and spots. Well established mushroom corals measure about 6 inch in diameter. Find out more on coral reefs.

Mushroom Coral Information

Mushroom corals are collected from deep seas and oceans for aesthetic purposes. According to your preference, you can select vibrant colored species that complement aquarium fish and other tank inhabitants. Caring for them is not so specific and you can practice the basic guidelines for keeping regular coral species. For maintaining healthy mushroom corals, all you need is live rocks, a sand substrate and regular water movements. Following is a brief information pertaining to mushroom coral care and maintenance instructions:

Mushroom Coral Classification
Mushroom coral is basically a type of soft coral that does not have exoskeleton. The common type is scientifically represented as Discosoma and Actinodiscus sp. According to taxonomical classification, mushroom coral belongs to the class Anthozoa and subclass Hexacorallia (or Zoantharia). The order of this soft coral is Corallimorpharia, while family is Fungiidae. Mushroom corals usually develop as dense clusters in the growing substrate.

Mushroom Coral Identification
In normal state, you will find mushroom coral like the regular mushroom, having a smooth or fuzzy surface texture. It does not secrete calcium carbonate like other stony species, but it is the tiny calcareous spicules that make mushroom coral appear like a mushroom. But, when it extends tentacles for feeding, mushroom coral looks like a beautiful flower. Under very high light intensity, it tends to remain inactive and does not open fully. Read more on coral reef facts.

Mushroom Coral Propagation
Even though mushroom coral is harvested from wild habitats, it is easy to propagate in controlled conditions. Provided that you maintain the proper growth requirements, it propagates extensively on its own. Within a few weeks to months, you will find the growing substrate covered with mushroom coral. Or you can separate the coral into pieces and maintain them over a gravel substrate. Though it is photosynthetic in nature, feeding small zooplankton and iodine supplement will promote luxuriant growth.

Mushroom Coral Care Tips
Indirect light is crucial for maintaining healthy mushroom coral in the aquariums. Moderate light level and 74º - 84º F temperature range are required conditions for full opening of the coral. It can tolerate high percentage of nitrates, phosphates and other organic nutrients in water. However, it is advisable to maintain the water chemistry properly. In reef tanks with correct levels of organic nutrients, the color of mushroom coral is bright and lively. Under prolonged stress, it shrivels and shrinks its size. Know more on tips in aquarium maintenance.

Mushroom Coral Reproduction
One of the amazing facts about mushroom coral is its mode of reproduction. According to the prevailing condition, it can change its sex from male to female and vice versa. This ability to switch on sex is extremely rare in the animal kingdom. At the time of reproduction, sperms and eggs are released at the same time in the water medium, after which they fertilize to form larvae. The larvae then settle down in the substrate or rock, developing into young mushroom corals.

For more information on corals, you can refer to:
Coral Reef Information
Coral Reefs: Coral Plants and Animals
The most popular mushroom corals are reddish and purplish ones. Experienced reef aquarists are of the opinion that species having extensive tentacles require optimal space and care. So, according to your fish tank size, condition and existing inhabitants, select mushroom coral species carefully. Maintain the basic requirements of these soft corals and they will surely look beautiful.

Threats to Coral Reefs

With so many potential threats to coral reefs, its decline has become a global concern from the last few decades. Though natural threats are also identified, much of the negative impacts are contributed by human intervention.

Coral reefs are hard, stony structures found underwater in the shallow marine waters. They are formed by skeletons of polyps and their calcium carbonate deposition, which overtime grow and extend into larger areas of the marine biome. One of the amazing coral reefs facts is that they are the biggest living structures on earth. They require a balanced water chemistry for growth, in terms of adequate light, temperature, nutrients and other factors. Any changes in the required conditions affect the survival of coral reefs.

Being considered as the rainforest of the sea, you can imagine the importance of coral reefs in marine ecosystem. They play a crucial role in balancing the marine environment and harbor a sheltering place for varied organisms. Other than serving as a home for coral plants and animals, they are some of the most attractive tourist sites. However, the major issue is potential threats to the coral reefs worldwide, both natural and human, which are collectively leading to rapid decline of the reefs.

Natural Threats to Coral Reefs

The marine components, including coral reefs are exposed to devastating natural events. These disturb the growth requirements of corals, which at times, kill some of the colonies. When we say natural threats to the coral reefs, they refer to the environmental and weather effects. Factors like strong waves and storms often cause breaking and fragmentation of the coral reefs. However, they do not kill the colonies directly. So, the reefs recover and repair with time.

Low tides expose the coral reefs to harmful rays of the sun, leading to death of the colonies. Another natural threat to coral reefs is warm ocean currents (El Nino), which result in increased water temperature and dilution of marine water. Predation of corals by fish and other organisms also contribute to decline of coral reefs. Their location is coastal areas and shallow water make them more prone to destructive natural events.

Human Threats to Coral Reefs

According to coral conservation reports, about 10 percent of the reefs are damaged to such an extent that they are beyond recovery. From the remaining, approximately 30 percent corals are on the verge of dying. If the present threats continue for the coming years, more than 60 percent coral reefs will vanished by 2050. Major human threats to coral reefs are:

Ocean Water Pollution
One of the leading threats to the Great Barrier Reef and other reefs of the world is pollution of ocean water. Every year gallons of oils, pesticides, fertilizers and sewage contaminate the oceans. All these agents cause water pollution, changing the marine water chemistry. Agricultural wastes result in increase growth of algae, which in turn reduces light availability to corals.

Global Warming Effects
Increase in carbon dioxide levels and other global warming aspects lead to rise in the ocean water temperature. Corals are extremely sensitive to temperature and an elevation of the same leads to coral bleaching (expelling algae by polyps). Also, carbon dioxide gets dissolved in ocean water, turning water acidic. This ocean acidification is another threat to coral reefs worldwide.

Coastal Development Projects
If you have studied coral reef information, you might be already aware that they are adapted in the shorelines. One of the major threats to the coral reefs is unchecked development projects undertaken in the coastal areas. These cause sedimentation, pollution and temperature fluctuation, thus posing a threat to coral reefs.

Coral Mining and Exploitation
Coral mining is practiced for several applications. Corals are sold as specimens, use in making jewelry, use for making bricks and other construction works. Besides these, coral reefs are often exploited for production of personal care and health care products. Consequently, coral reef degradation (to some extent) takes place.

Fishing Activities and Tourism
Fishing techniques like blast fishing and cyanide fishing are major threats to the coral reefs in the Caribbean and have negative effect on the coral population. In addition to this, tourist centers and resorts contribute wastes to the nearby coastal areas, which slowly poison the live corals.

On the concluding note, damages caused by natural threats to coral reefs are minimal and can be recovered in due time. In short, the most concerning issue is human activity that poses hazardous effects to the reefs. So, it is high time that we devise some effective ways of saving the corals and coral reefs and perform our duty to save them from the potential threats.

How are Coral Reefs Formed

Coral reefs are one of the oldest and largest living ecosystems on earth. Interested in knowing how are coral reefs formed? This article gives an insight into the occurrence and formation of coral reefs.

Coral reefs are large ecosystems formed by polyps, which secrete calcium carbonate. Around one-fourth of all the marine plants and animals are found in these underwater structures. With reference to this rich biodiversity, they are considered as the rainforests of the sea. Identified as the world's largest reef, the Great Barrier Reef, stretches about 2,600 kilometers. Seeing the vastness of the reefs, how are coral reefs formed is an intriguing topic in marine biology.

Where are Coral Reefs Formed?

Statistics reveal that coral reefs occupies only about 1 percent of the total surface area covered by oceans. Depending upon where are coral reefs formed, they are categorized under three primary types. The first and the most common type is fringing reef that remains attached to the shores, forming a border in the shoreline. The second is the barrier reef that also forms a border in the shoreline, but are not directly attached to the land mass. A deep lagoon separates the barrier reef and the mainland. The last type is atoll reef, which is a near circular reef with a lagoon in the center.

How do Coral Reefs Form?

According to coral reef information, it is believed that the oldest reefs were formed approximately 500 million years back. The prerequisites for formation of coral reefs is warm temperature condition and sufficient sunlight. This is the main reason why they are mostly found in shallow waters of the temperate and tropical oceans, where the average temperatures does not fall below 64 degrees F. Nevertheless, there are also deep water corals that can form reefs at greater depths of the ocean under low light condition.

If you go through coral reef facts, you will find that the hard structure is nothing, but the calcium carbonate (limestone) skeleton of the corals. Each of the coral colony houses numerous small, cylindrical polyps, which are connected with each other. The reefs are formed exclusively by hard coral polyp, which forms a cup-shaped limestone skeleton around itself. Another type known as soft coral polyp does not secrete calcium carbonate as its skeleton. In short, soft corals are not capable of forming coral reefs.

Speaking more about 'how are coral reefs formed', after the death of hard coral polyps, their skeleton serve as a new foundation for attachment of new polyps. The individual coral polyps are fragile, invertebrate animals having a column shaped body. The upper end bears tentacles, while the base is attached to the reef substrate. During daytime, the polyps withdraw from the cup shaped skeletons. The coral polyps live in symbiotic association with brown algae. The algae help in secretion of limestone and provide sugar to the polyps.

Formation of coral reefs is brought about by accumulation of death and living hard corals, under the influence of rising water levels in the marine biome. Since coral polyps are colonial species, they tend to grow and develop together. Consequently, skeleton growth takes place in masses. As old polyps die, new polyps grow and the cycle continues. Over a span of time (thousands of years) and generation after generation, the skeletons accumulate extensively, leading to formation of stony structures, known as coral reefs. The uppermost portion of the reefs contains live polyps.

So, isn't how are coral reefs formed interesting? With this information, I hope you have cleared your doubts about why do coral reefs form. As you already see, it takes thousands of years for coral colonies to get established, which is quite a long time. Considering this, a major environmental issue is the natural and human threats to the coral reefs. Thus, instant steps for saving corals and coral reefs are crucial to conserve the oldest ecosystems of our planet.

Frogspawn Coral

f you intend to add some variation to your reef aquarium, the frogspawn coral is one species to look out for. Continue reading, for more information on frogspawn coral - with special emphasis on its housing and care.

The frogspawn coral is a large polyp stony coral species which is typically characterized by the visibility of its polyps throughout the day and night. This coral species is generally green or brown in color and has a unique appearance - both of which combine to make it one of the most sought after coral species for reef aquariums. If you are one of those people who are contemplating the idea of adding this species to your reef aquarium setup, you will get well versed with all the tips and tricks of frogspawn coral care as you go through this write-up.

Frogspawn Coral Facts

The frogspawn species derives its name from the fact that its polyps resemble a frog or fish eggs to certain extent. Other than the name frogspawn, this species is also referred to as the grape coral or the octopus coral. The habitat of a frogspawn coral spans across the deep waters of Red Sea, Samoa, Indo-Pacific, Solomon Islands, etc. These marine organisms play a crucial role in formation of coral reefs which have an important role to play when it comes to biodiversity of the planet. This is one of the most aggressive species of coral in the world, and thrives best in stable or moderate flow water. In its natural habitat, the frogspawn coral species does not require direct feeding owing to its symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae. The relationship between frogspawn coral and zooxanthellae is the best examples of mutualism; wherein the former gets benefited from photosynthesis carried out by zooxanthellae and the latter gets benefited by nitrogen produced by the coral species. The long tentacles of the frogspawn coral are armed with Nematocysts - a type of venomous cell, which helps it capture food. This food can either be digested on-site itself or brought to the coral's mouth for feeding.

Frogspawn Coral Care

Experts put the frogspawn coral in the list of species which are moderately difficult to care for, mainly owing to their requirements. The frogspawn coral will only thrive well if the necessary conditions are provided to facilitate its growth. It will grow well in water with pH level ranging between 8.1-8.4 and hardness of 8° to 12° dH. In order to facilitate proper frogspawn coral growth you will have to make sure that the temperature in its habitat ranges between 75°F-82°F. You will also have to make sure that the aquarium in which you house this species has moderate to high lighting and moderate flow of water.

You need to take note of the fact that the frogspawn species is quite aggressive when it comes to interaction with other coral types. The frogspawn coral species has an amazing ability of extending its lengthy sweeper tentacles as far as six inches beyond its base. In this process, it can also sting other coral species in the reef aquarium which are within its reach. That being said, you have to take special precautions when it comes frogspawn coral placement. Ideally, you should make sure that you leave enough space between the frogspawn and other species of corals in your reef aquarium to make sure that they don't harm each other.

The diet of frogspawn coral species includes small marine animals such as shrimp, krill, etc. If you house a frogspawn in your reef aquarium, you can feed it the same food. Basically, this feeding has a crucial role to play when it comes to frogspawn coral growth and color. Owing to their voracious feeding habit, you will require to give it some calcium and strontium supplements as well. Even though it depends on photosynthesis facilitated by zooxanthellae in the wild, you will have to make sure that you provide it with necessary nutrients in reef aquarium.

That was a significant bit of information on frogspawn coral - with special reference to some facts that you need to know if you intend to add it to your reef aquarium. If you don't give the frogspawn necessary attention in terms of the basic requirements mentioned above, you will notice that it will start fading - which is a sign of your frogspawn coral dying. A healthy frogspawn has very bright vibrant colors. The simplest way to make sure that it stays healthy is to follow all the measures of frogspawn coral care given above religiously.

Brain Coral

Brain corals belong to the family of Faviidae, appearance of which resembles an animal brain. Read the article to get more information on brain corals...

Brain coral is a kind of stony coral that is named after its unique appearance. The channels and grooves on its surface makes it look like an animal brain. Brain corals are found in warm and shallow waters in different parts of the world. Although found in a number of oceans in the world, Great Barrier Reef in Australia (the largest reef system in the world) is where they are most notable. As in the case of other corals, brain coral is also not a single organism. It is a colony formed by individuals called polyps. These polyps come together and build a skeleton of calcium carbonate. The hard surface of calcium carbonate is what categorizes them under stony corals. This also makes them exceptional coral reef builders.

Unlike other corals of the branching variety, brain corals grow at a very slow pace. But the long duration seems to be quite reasonable as they develop strong structures that saves them from breaking up due to a storm or a hurricane. The largest brain coral is recorded to have grown up to 6 feet in height. Read on to find some more brain coral facts relating to their habitat.

Brain Coral Habitat

As mentioned earlier, brain corals are an integral part of the marine biome and they are found in shallow waters with warm temperatures. Because of its strong nature, they withstand wave actions and strong currents in the shallow waters. To be more specific they are mostly found on the upper reef slopes. The polyps of a brain coral are nocturnal in nature which means that they active in the night.

What do these brain corals survive on? What do they feed on? Just like any other marine organisms, corals also need food to survive. How? The polyp skin consists of mesentery filaments or sweeper tentacles, they stretch and extend them to capture food. The invertebrates and other small marine animals that float by fall prey to brain corals. They also gain nutrition from marine algae that grow on the grooves of the coral. These marine algae are called zooxanthellae and the corals and the algae mutually benefit each other. Brain corals have a threat from other predators floating by. In such times, they retract their tentacles to save themselves from being eaten up.

Brain Corals in Aquarium Trade

Of the many different kinds of brain corals, the maze brain coral are the common ones found in the aquarium trade. They belong to the platygyra genus. Brain maze coral requires moderate care. Brain coral care is not as simple as it may seem, and one needs to consider many factors when confining the brain corals in an unnatural environment. Some of the essential points under brain coral care includes the food, light and other factors.

Many believe that brain corals do not need food to eat as they get all the nutrition from the symbiotic relation they have with the algae. However, this is not true! They do need to be fed on other foods, be it in the ocean or in the aquarium. Although the food habits may slightly vary depending on the species, baby brine shrimp, rotifiers, mysid shrimp and feeder foods can be given to them. They also do consume zooplankton based food items. They at least need to be fed once a week for normal growth.

Brain corals also need sufficient light, and changing a certain percentage of water every month is also essential. The caring requirements may differ for different species. Therefore it is important to equip oneself with all the necessary information with regards to brain coral care.

Destructive fishing practices, water pollution, dropping boat anchors, coastal development, ocean acidification are just some of the common threats to coral reefs. This affects the brain coral habitat. In fact it not only is a threat to brain corals but also to the other coral reef animals.

Fire Coral

Though, not true corals, fire corals resemble the former in appearance. This article will provide you with some information about this marine mass.

Even though fire corals and true corals share the same phylum, the former is not a true coral. Fire corals belong to the family Milleporidae (genus millipora) and is found to be closely related to jellyfish and certain types of stinging sea anemones. There are around six species of fire coral, that are named after their stinging characteristic. It has also been contended that there are numerous species and subspecies of this organism. Fire coral sting is said to cause severe burning sensation for a few days. Let us take a detailed look at certain fire coral facts, especially about their stings.

Fire Coral ~ Information

Fire coral are usually found in both tropical and subtropical waters, attached to underwater rocks or coral reefs. The color of a fire coral may range from greenish yellow to brown with white edges. They can also be found in different forms. Some of them have branches, like fingertips, whereas some others are found as calcareous stone-like structures that are formed through encrusting. You may also find fire corals with plate-like branches as seen in lettuce corals. This marine organism is often found to be mistaken for seaweed and this is one of the reasons, why people get stung by them, while, diving or swimming.

Skin contact with fire coral leads to stings that can cause immense pain and burning sensation. They have numerous small nematocysts (venomous cells) with tentacles and these structures are responsible for fire coral stings. In case of fire corals, the defensive polyps are found to develop around the feeding polyp and it is those defensive polyps that possess nematocysts. Apart from the stings, the calcified rough external surfaces and the sharp edges of fire coral may also cause damage to the skin. The following paragraph will provide you with information about fire coral stings.

Fire Coral Stings

So, fire corals are marine organisms that can inflict painful stings. The affected person may not feel anything for a short time and may develop symptoms within five to thirty minutes. Fire coral sting symptoms include moderate to severe pain, along with a burning sensation. The person may develop fire coral rash, within a short time. This type of rash may or may not be associated with itching. In some cases, swelling of lymph nodes, nausea, vomiting, etc.

Fire coral sting treatment should be started with rinsing of the affected part with sea water, as use of fresh water may increase the pain. Vinegar or isopropyl alcohol must be applied over the area. Make sure to remove the tentacles embedded in the skin. This can be done with tweezers. In case of allergic reaction, like, breathing trouble, swelling of tongue, lips, etc., immediate medical attention must be provided. It is always better to keep the person, as still as possible, as any type of movements may result in spreading of the venom. Treatment for these stings are done with pain killers, antihistamines, etc. But, it is always better to do it as per the advice of your doctor.

Now, you have a basic understanding about fire corals and their stings. It is always better to take preventive measures to avoid such stings. This can be done by wearing a wet suit or a whole body Lycra suit. You must also take care to avoid skin contact with any marine organism or underwater rocks and other things. Even if you get stung, the symptoms will disappear within a few days, if there is no infection. In order to minimize the risk of infection, refrain from scratching the area.


See more about the magnificent lifestyle of some corals that can also live in your home aquarium!

Corals are one good example of our Creator's enormous creativity. Their mysterious, fascinating beauty and delicacy has got the close attention of people mostly ever since the beginning of humanity. So, let us look closer at them and their story.

These animals are a polyp species that belong to the class of Coelenterates. These polyps are connected with each other through calcareous channels. After the polyps' death, on the old calcareous skeleton grows another coral, and thus the coral reefs appear. The coral calcareous skeleton's most frequent colors are red and white. Because of its beauty, the coral calcareous skeleton is used by humans to make artifacts, jewelry pieces and decorative objects. Corals represent the living environment for numerous ocean species (in fact, for 1/3 of the ocean species). The corals' growing quotas are extremely variable, depending on environmental conditions or on the species.

There are many types of corals: ramified corals, flat corals, massive corals, brain corals, corals that look like paper or foil. Many of these corals can be kept in aquariums, only we need to mind their very own specific needs and particularities. Thus, Sinularia enjoys medium lighting and does not require a direct feeding. It is very easy to spread. It grows very fast and it can feed very fast. As it has been previously mentioned, medium lighting is better than small lighting.

Sarcophyton latum requires medium luminosity/brightness. It is not an aggressive species and it is easy to grow in an aquarium.

Sarcophyton elegans has a unique look. It has a very difficult resistance and do not respond positively to stress conditions. They are sensitive to the human touch, although they do not die if touched, they may get quite stressed out. They require medium to high luminosity conditions. Therefore, they require more light than Sarcophyton. Their placement varies depending on the aquarium's conditions.

Sarcophyton is incredibly easy to spread. It is the perfect type of corals for those who are not familiar with keeping an aquarium. They tolerate any type of luminosity, but they are more sensitive to the water's quality. They can be placed most anywhere, even in darker rocks. It is a somehow aggressive species, since it can spread out toxins in the aquarium that can harm other coral species.

Hydnophora has a medium resistance and it requires high luminosity. Its placement depends on the light. It is easy to feed, with any nutrients. This type has been spread in captivity. If we offer this coral a lot of light, it is rather easy to grow in an aquarium.

Heliofungia is a beautiful coral with long and colorful tentacles. This coral can be also found in local fish shops. It is a very healthy species and shall survive in the first months in captivity, with a very good reaction to change. It requires a lot of light.

Tubacrea, the sun coral is indeed a magnificent species. It has unusual colors such as yellow, orange and black. It does not contain algae that make the corals photosynthetic. If this coral is not photosynthetic and does grow in darker places it will survive longer. At any rate, the coral can live happily in both types of environment: luminous or darker. It is placed in a substrate or on small rocks. It must be regularly fed, with small cut pieces and each piece of polyp in particular needs special care. It can propagate due to its capacity to reproduce sexuality in its body and form the polyps. It is rather non-aggressive. It does imply a lot of difficulties to be grown in an aquarium. If during the feeding process all polyps do not receive food, those polyps which do not get any food will die.

Miss Ricordia are some wonderful corals. They are beautifully colored, easy to take care of and small enough to live in an aquarium, and also do not require a lot of light. They are very adaptable and like any type of luminosity, from fluorescent light to strong light. The difference in lights will affect the color and the coral's growth up to a certain point. The coral may sting and destroy its neighbors, so they should not be placed close to other coral species.

Types of Coral Reefs

A comprehensive write-up on the three major types of coral reefs - and their formation, intended to introduce you to one of the most fascinating, but less known attributes of the marine ecosystem. Continue reading for more facts about coral reefs - with emphasis on their types.

Coral reefs are marine structures which are made of calcium carbonate secreted by corals. Even though they occupy less than 10 percent of the total ocean surface, coral reefs are known to support as many as 25 percent of the total species found in the marine biome. In terms of biodiversity, coral reefs are believed to be second only to the tropical rainforests of the world. However, many scientists refute this claim citing that the coral reefs are richer in terms of biodiversity as compared to the rainforests, with several species which depend on these marine structures yet to be discovered. Even though this argument is debatable, it does explain why coral reefs are referred to as the 'rainforests of the sea'. Before we move on to see what are the different types of coral reefs found on the planet, let's go through some general facts about corals and coral reefs in order to get rid of various myths about them.

Corals: Plants or Animals

Even though corals appear as if they are plants, in true sense they are animals - marine colonial polyps to be precise, that are typically characterized by the presence of calcareous skeleton. It is their shape which often leaves people wondering whether they are plants or animals, but once you take a note of the fact that what appears to be a plant is a full colony of corals, things become pretty clear. One of the basic attributes of animals which distinguish them from plants is their inability to prepare their own food. Corals can't prepare their own food, but instead use their tentacles to hunt tiny organisms on which they feed. There exist two different types of corals - hard corals and soft corals. While the hard corals like Elkhorn coral - which are armed with hard, limestone skeletons, contribute to the formation of coral reefs, soft corals do not have the ability to do so.

Coral Reef Facts

Coral reefs start at a length of a few centimeters and go on to attain an unimaginable size - the Great Barrier Reef in the Pacific Ocean being one of the best example of the same. Coral reefs are considered largest living structures on the planet. In fact, the Great Barrier Reef - which can be seen from the outer space, boasts of being the largest single structure made by living organisms. While coral reefs grow at the rate of 1 inch a year, they can only attain such gigantic size when they are not disturbed - by human activities in particular. They are known to grow best in shallow, clear water, where there is no dearth of sunlight. It is very rare to find coral reefs growing below the depth of 40 meters or where some freshwater source meets the ocean. Coral reefs form an important component of the marine biome, and the lengthy list of coral plants and animals speaks volumes about the same.

Major Types of Coral Reefs

Even though there exists quite a few different types of coral reefs, most of the scientists only recognize the three major types among them - the fringing reef, the barrier reef, and the atoll. These three types also find a mention in Charles Darwin's theory of coral reef formation wherein he gives a detailed description of each of them to show how they evolve. As you go through the details about the three major types of coral reefs and their formation given below, you will get to know several more facts about them.

Fringing Reefs
Typically characterized by its proximity to the shores, the fringing reef is one of the most common types of coral reef in the world. It is located very close to the shore in such a manner that it forms a shallow channel or lagoon between its border and the shoreline. As this reef type forms very close to the shore, you seldom get to see it in regions where river drains into the ocean. At times, this type of reef extends right to the edge of the shore and forms a continuous platform with it. Of the 3000 odd coral reefs which form the Great Barrier Reef around 700 are actually fringing reefs.

Barrier Reefs
The barrier reef is a type of coral reef which is separated from the mainland by a deep lagoon or a channel of water. It is not much difficult from the fringing reef, with the exception of the fact that it is located at a greater distance from the shore as compared to the latter. One of the best examples of this type of coral reef is the Great Barrier Reef - which covers approximately 133,000 sq miles of the Pacific Ocean. Scientists have seen a rise in the number of barrier reefs in the oceans of late, which - according to them, is attributed to rise in sea levels as a result of global warming.

An atoll is a roughly circular, continuous barrier reef which extends all the way around a lagoon. While the absence of a central landmass is a characteristic of this reef type, the absence of the same can be attributed to the rise in water level as a result of which the central island has submerged. In other words, atoll reefs are formed when rise in water levels causes the central island to submerge while the coral structure continues to grow to keep up with the water surface. Even though such reefs are found in various parts of the world, they are most common in the Indo-Pacific region.

While these are the major coral reefs types that you get to see in oceans today, there also exist other types such as the 'patch reefs' which form within a lagoon and 'apron reefs' which are quite similar to fringing reefs but comparatively smaller in size. The formation of coral reefs also prompts the formation of various other structures, with cays - small, low-elevation islands which are formed as a result of accumulation of sand on the coral reefs, being the best example of the same.

Other than being the most diverse, the coral reef ecosystem is also one of the most fragile ecosystems on the planet - such that a slight change in ocean water temperature can cause severe harm to it. Threats to coral reefs exist in plenty, with climate change, overexploitation of reef resources, ocean pollution and harmful methods of fishing being a few of them. Taking into consideration the biodiversity that this ecosystem boasts of, it would be utter foolishness to let the same deteriorate, and that makes the implementation of coral reef conservation measures the need of the hour.

Coral Reefs

Coral reefs 

Coral reefs are marine structures, formed by underwater living organisms and are made of the minerals Aragonite. Coral reefs are found in a variety of forms and form one of the world's most biologically diverse, independent ecosystems

Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor air pollution is one of the leading causes for respiratory health problems, especially amongst those who use solid fuels inside homes. Identifying the indoor air pollution sources and controlling them are practical steps to avoid health hazards resulted from the pollutants. Read on...

When we discuss air pollution, not of many of us thick twice about the pollutants present in our indoor environment. The absence of automobiles, vehicles and industries doesn't mean that there is no indoor air pollution. In fact, air in homes or offices is contaminated to some degree. Fortunately, there are ways to stop air pollution indoors, with which the quality of indoor air can be increased for better health.

Facts about Indoor Air Pollution

The reduction of indoor air quality due to physical, chemical and biological factors is referred to as indoor air pollution. Categorized under the types of air pollution, it negatively affects the health of people in several ways. Chronic medical problems may be manifested, when exposed to indoor pollutants for an extended time. Some indoor air pollution facts, which every individual should be aware of are highlighted below.

Indoor Air Pollution Statistics
According to reports published on environmental issues, indoor pollution of air is listed in the first five risk factors for public health. Considering the fact that we spend maximum time in homes, the indoor air pollutants are responsible for causing, or exacerbating 50 percent of medical problems. Also, 10 percent cases of common cold are contacted outdoors, while the remaining 90 percent cases are contacted indoors.

Indoor Air Pollution Sources
While combustion of fossil fuels is the major reason for outdoor air pollution, the sources for pollution of indoor air are biomass fuels, coals, household products, biological pollutants and materials used for construction purposes. The major sources include cigarette smoke, body sprays, mold growth, pollens, aerosols, cleaning products, polishes, paints and asbestos use in building.

Indoor Air Pollution Causes
You might be already familiar with the causes of air pollution. But, what about indoor air pollution causes? Uses of beauty products, paints, cleaning products, solid fuels, formaldehyde, lead, etc. are the contributing factors. Can you believe that about 3 billion people still rely on biomass fuels (e.g. cow dung, wood) for generating energy inside homes? Burning of these fuels for cooking or heating is a major cause.

Indoor Air Pollution Effects
Needless to mention, the effects of air pollution are mainly attributed to respiratory health problems. Some medical conditions arise due to indoor pollution are fatigue, headache, runny nose, eye irritation and allergic responses. Poor indoor air quality is the number one leading cause for childhood asthma. In the United States, one out of every 10 children is diagnosed with asthma.

Indoor Air Pollution Prevention
Several studies and clinical researches have been conducted on prevention of air pollution. Simple solutions to improve indoor air quality are maintaining proper ventilation in homes, growing houseplants, using air purifiers and reducing the sources that release contaminants. The logic is to limit use of smoke, fumes, chemical carcinogens, etc., that make their way inside homes.

Indoor Air Pollution Overview
In indoor air pollution, the immediate environment where we spend 90 percent of our time is contaminated with pollutants. So, you can expect their detrimental effects on the respiratory system. The concentration of air pollutants in indoors is 25-100 times higher than outdoors. Air pollutants present outdoors get diffused and diluted with time. To be more precise, homes and offices are enclosed structures that retain contaminants for a longer period.

On the concluding note, short-term exposure to indoor air pollution is not a medical concern, and discomfort symptoms will subside as soon as the source is removed. However, those exposed to indoor air pollutants for a prolonged time may develop chronic respiratory diseases and cancers. Implement the effectual ways to prevent air pollution and surely, you can increase indoor air quality.

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