Common Name: Coral Reefs
Family: Corals are sessile animals, meaning they are not movable and stay fixed in one place.
Range: Corals live in tropical waters all through the world, usually close to the surface where the sun’s rays can reach the algae. The newly developed dive-site has been along the pacific coast of Guanacaste province in Costa Rica. You will find little live coral and few reefs. The divers will find a huge variety of soft corals, fish, and invertebrates a result of the abundance of plankton that flourishes in these tropical areas. The Caribbean coast has good coral reefs. At Isla Uvita, just offshore of Limon, are tropical fish, sea fans, and a coral reef. Farther south, at Cahuita, is Costa Rica’s most beautiful coral reef extending 500 meters out from Cahuita point. The fan shaped reef covers 593 hectares and has 35 different species.
Size: Reef growth is extremely slow; an individual colony grows inch to 7 inches (1 cm to 18 cm) in a year, depending on the species.
Diet: It is carnivore. Coral polyps are usually nocturnal feeders. At night, they extend their tentacles to capture food with the aid of nematocysts. Few corals eat zooplankton (tiny drifting animals) or small fishes. Others coral consume organic debris. Several reef- building corals originate their nutrition from zooxanthellae. They nourish by reaching out with tentacles to catch prey.
Average life span: Average lifespan of coral is little known; generally coral colonies can live for several decades to centries.
Habitat: Coral reef development only takes place in areas with specific environmental characteristics:
Warm water temperatures, a solid structure for attachment, Moderate wave action to disperse wastes and bring oxygen and plankton to the reef. Clear waters low in phosphate and nitrogen nutrients.
Breeding/Reproduction: Corals can reproduce both sexually or asexually. An individual polyp might use both reproductive methods within its lifetimes.
Corals reproduce sexually by either internal or external fertilization. The reproductive cells are borne on mesenteries (membranes) that radiate inward from the layer of tissue that lines the stomach cavity
Some corals are hermaphroditic (having both male and female reproductive cells). Others are either male or female. Both sexes can occur in a colony, or a colony may consist of individuals of the same sex.
Synchronous spawning occurs in many corals. Polyps release eggs and sperm into the water at the same time. This spawning method disperses eggs over a larger area. Synchronous spawning depends on four factors: time of the year, water temperature, and tidal and lunar cycles.
Coral colonies grow in low water are often heavily branched. In comparison deeper water corals sometime grow in sheets or plates. These flattened forms allow for more efficient use of lower light intensities in deeper waters.
The growth rate of corals and coral reefs depends on several factors such as light strength, water temperature, and turbidity, and salinity, competition for space, food availability, and predation. The upward growth of coral colonies is generally between 0.5 to 4 inches (1-10 cm) in a year.
The mentioned coral reefs generally brings to mind warm climates, colorful fishes and clear waters. However, the reef itself is actually a component of a larger ecosystem. The coral community is really a system that includes a collection of biological communities, representing one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. For this reason, coral reefs often are referred to as the “rainforests of the oceans.
Coral reefs are forms or structures which can be found under the water. They were form from secretion of calcium carbonate from a living corals. They are usually inhabited by a lot of marine animals. They are constructed from stony corals by a group of polyps. They usually inhabit the sunny and warm waters or even shallow and agitated waters in the world. In Costa Rica, you can find a long line of coral reefs in the Cahuita National Park as well as the pacific coast of Guanacaste province, Catalinas Island, Uvita, Punta Gorda, Cocos Island and Murcielagos. Costa Rica is known to have a very abundant place of coral reefs. Many marine species made coral reefs as their home hence they are called the rainforest of the sea.
Corals are small animals that have a calcium carbonate shells. These coral reefs have coral heads that consists of many polyps. Polyps are tiny with a measurement of 12 inches from one side to the other. Corals are deemed animal not a plant or a rock. When these corals are group together in the ocean floors they usually form shapes like one that looks like a wrinkled brains, cabbages, pillars etc. Adult corals have the ability to reproduce. Some are hermaphroditic or have both male and female organs and other organs while others can change their sex as they grow. Some polyps will fertilized its eggs inside while other are externally develop.
There are three main types of reef. One is the Fringing reef. These types of reefs are connected straight to a shore. They may develop many yards from the shore with much sea grass and patch reef. This type of reef usually is found in the waters of Caribbean as well as the Red Sea.
Second type of reefs is the Barrier Reef. This type of reef is parted by a lagoon from the shore. Example of these is the famous Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Third is the Atoll reef where this type of reef expands all the way around a lagoon with having no central island. They circulate in a lagoon entirely or just partially. Most of these types of reefs can be found in the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, Atlantic Ocean as well as the Caribbean Sea.
Coral reefs offer habitats for a large variety of organisms. These organisms depend on corals as a source of food and shelter. Besides the corals themselves and their symbiotic algae, several other creatures that call coral reefs home include various sponges; molluscs such as oysters, sea slugs, and clams; crustaceans like shrimp and crabs; several types of sea worms; like sea urchins; jellyfish and sea anemones; several types of fungi; like sea turtles; and various species of fish.
It was noted that coral reefs are slowly declining its numbers. It is due to habitat loss due to pollutions, overfishing, blast fishing and digging under the water. Also some humans harvest corals for other uses. Countries around the world as well international organizations like the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) do everything for the preservation of this corals.