Coral reefs are definitely among the marine wonders of the world. The overwhelming beauty of coral reefs – the awe-inspiring colors, the mystery of its structures, and its life-sustaining wonders make them a popular theme for books, feature articles in magazines and newspapers, and as documentary materials for film and broadcast.

Coral reefsNot only magnificent to behold underwater, they are a model of life’s symbiotic or inter-dependent existence in an ecological system. Coral reefs are formed in both temperate and tropical climate.

The predominant composition of coral reefs is the stony corals which are cylindrical polyps that look like small sea anemones. They release calcium carbonate in the form of exoskeletons, the “building blocks” of coral reefs.

The stony corals are broken down into skeletal fragments by sea urchins, sponges, fish, and the important corraline algae that deposits limestone over the reef surface that strengthens its structure. Over time, the exoskeletons pile up due to constant water movement and sea erosion. This results to the stoney formations that support the live corals and where billions of sea animal and plants thrive.

Soft Coral reefs

Soft Coral

Coral reefs come in a variety of coral formations that give the structure its shape and appearance, such as apron reef, atoll reef, bank reef, barrier reef, fringing reef, ribbon reef, and table reef. Over 284,000 square kilometers in the world are coral reef formations.

Majority of them are found in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly in South East Asia and Australia. The extremely cold climates in parts of America and Africa account for the absence of major coral reefs in these areas.