How many of you have ever been to a tropical place such as Florida or the Caribbean? How any of you have ever seen pictures of coral reefs such as this one?
I’m sure many of you have appreciated the beauty of the reefs in some way, but I’m sure you didn't know about their value to both the economy and the ecosystem. While it is hard to put a dollar value on the benefits of coral reefs, according to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) it is estimated that coral reefs provide a worldwide annual income of 30 billion dollars EVERY YEAR. These reefs are not only eye candy, but also a source of income for millions of people across the globe. Besides being important for the economy, coral reefs are also very important to the ecosystem, providing homes to 25% of the world’s marine life.
By learning more about these…show more content… Before we learn why they are important, we must firstly understand what they are Simply put, coral reefs are diverse underwater ecosystems that are comprised of individual organisms called corals. Corals are the building blocks of coral reefs. Unlike many people think, corals are actually animals, although they possess some plant like characteristics. They share a symbiotic relationship with the algae zooxanthellae, which serves as a source of food, but also gives the coral its beautiful color. This algae grows through photosynthesis, which is why most corals are found in warmer, shallower waters. The coral itself is made up of a limestone skeleton which it secretes from its absorption of carbon dioxide in the water. This hard skeleton is covered in flesh-like organisms called coral polyps. These polyps consist of stinging tentacles, a mouth, and a digestive system. The stinging tentacles are used for feeding at night, to catch prey such as microscopic phytoplankton. The food is then brought in through the coral’s central mouth and processed in the digestive cavity. Coral colonies often consist of thousands of these tiny