Q:

How are coral reefs made?

A:

Quick Answer

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, coral reefs are formed when coral larvae attach themselves to rocks or other hard surfaces found under water along the edges of islands and along coasts. Additionally, plants may also accumulate within the reef. The process is slow and aided by limestone deposits, which settle on the plant and animal life.

Know More
How are coral reefs made?
Credit: NOAA Photo Library / David Burdick Flickr CC-BY-2.0

Full Answer

Several types of animals and plants call the reef ecosystem home, and many contribute to the habitat's construction. However, there are relatively few species that are responsible for building the framework on which the other animals and plants take refuge. They include hard corals and coralline red algae. Both coral and algae are able to extract calcium and bicarbonate from seawater and combine them into a substance called limestone, which is essential for constructing the skeleton of the reef.

There are three major types of coral reefs, including fringing, barrier and atoll. The most common type of reefs are fringing reefs, which grow in shallow waters close to the coastline. Barrier reefs are larger and separated from land by a lagoon. Atolls are ring-shaped formations and are located near the water's surface. Atolls normally form around underwater islands or inactive volcanoes.


Is this answer helpful?

Similar Questions

  • Q:

    What is an example of parasitism in coral reefs?

    A:

    One example of a parasitic relationship in coral reefs includes crustaceans from the Copepoda or Isopoda orders, which attach to fish in the reefs, sometimes causing harm but at other times simply holding on and feeding on food particles that float by them. Coral reefs feature organisms that coexist in a number of different relationships, including parasitism, but also symbiosis, competition, commensalism and mutualism.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What would happen if the coral reefs disappeared?

    A:

    If the world's coral reefs die off completely, their loss is likely to create hunger in countries that rely on the reefs to attract and sustain fish, economic decline in places that rely on the allure of reefs for tourism and a gap in the world's biodiversity. Ecologist Roger Bradbury wrote in an opinion piece for the New York Times that collective effects would be devastating.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is the most diverse ecosystem in the world?

    A:

    According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, coral reefs are one of the most diverse and valuable ecosystems on earth. Reefs support more species per unit area than any other marine environment.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How are ocean currents formed?

    A:

    Ocean currents can be formed by wind, gravity, earthquakes and temperature and salinity variations that cause density differences in the water mass, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Some ocean currents are short lived and don't go far, while others last for a very long time and can take centuries to complete one circuit of the earth.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore