Coral Reefs

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  • Coral reefs
    • A limestone structure produced over a long period of time. Are an animal
    • Coral nutrition
      • Stick hair-like trap planktonic organisms or stinging cells stab and kill
      • 90% of food energy is from symbiotic algae inside the coral polyps and produce sugars
    • Abiotic conditions required
      • Warm stable temperatures, 25-29°C
      • Bright sunlight
      • Low turbidity so the feeding clia and sunlight isn't blocked
      • Salinity must remain constant
      • A hard substrate needed for polyp attachment
    • Importance of coral reefs
      • Medical discoveries
        • Biologically active substances can be produced for defence
        • The biological substances can be used in medicine developments
      • Fisheries
        • Often an important food source for locals
        • Source of income
      • Protection from erosion
        • Reefs absorb wave energy
        • Without a reef low lying islands and coastal areas are more likely to suffer erosion, storm damage and flooding
      • Climate control
        • Some CO2 assimilate by reefs is converted to Calcium carbonate
        • Acts as carbon reservoir
      • Tourism
        • Attract tourists that make large contribution to economies
    • Threats
      • Physical damage
        • Divers, swimmers, boat anchors, litter
        • The coral will regrow but damage is faster than repair
      • Souvenirs and ornaments
        • Collected to be sold as tourist souvenirs
        • 2000 species restricted by CITES Appendix 2, but not always enforced effectively
      • Climate change
        • Sea temperatures increase, some reefs may die due to prolonged bleaching
        • Increasing hurricane frequencey increases reef damage
        • With sea levels rising harder for some corals to grow fast enough to stay near enough the surface to photosynthesise
        • CO2 levels increase so more dissolves into the sea reducing the pH, this causes limestone to dissolve
      • Pollution
        • Oil, pesticides and cyanide
        • Fertilisers can increase algae growth blocking light
      • Fishing
        • Overexploitation
        • Nets damaging, dynamite destroys coral, cuanide poisons
    • Conservation
      • Fixed mooring buoys so no anchor use
      • Divers, snorkellers and swimmers educated
      • No-Take Zones
      • Ecotourism, sustainable development
      • Coastal developments controlled
      • Human activites controlled


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