So coral reefs are marine plants, right? Not exactly. Here are some facts you might not have known about coral reefs.
A coral reef isn’t a “thing,” it’s actually a community of life that lives and thrives in one location. What we think of as the base of the reef (and what we see when it is dry and removed from the water) is only one small aspect of a living reef.
Even though they cover less than 1% of the ocean floor, coral reefs are called the "rainforests of the ocean" because they're the backbone of the ocean's biodiversity. In fact, they support an estimated 25% of all known marine species. Scientists estimate that more than one million species of plants and animals are directly or indirectly dependent on coral reef ecosystems. The ocean would be a very different place without them.
Reefs that are noticeable in size, like the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, are between 5,000 and 10,000 years old.
58% of the world’s reefs are threatened by human activity.
The algae that typically covers and grows on a reef lives in a symbiotic relationship with the coral polyps. There are many different kinds of algae, from the microscopic to ones with leaf-like appendages several feet in length.
Scientists have discovered that many parts of a coral reef can be harvested to make medications to treat cancers and other illnesses.
There are three types of reefs, one of which is often mistaken for an island. There are barrier reefs, fringing reefs, and atolls. The last is often called an island when it is really a reef.
Fringing reefs get their name because they're closer to shore than barrier reefs and are arranged like a fringe around the shallow waters. Barrier reefs are found further out to sea and in deeper waters. Atolls are mistaken for islands because they are island-like and grow on the outer edges of lagoons.
A coral reef needs sunlight to grow, which is why thriving reefs around the world are generally are found in waters less than 60 feet deep. They also are more likely to be found in tropical oceans because the water is clearer and warmer.
Oddly enough, reefs usually grow up on the eastern shore of land masses. The temperature there is thought to be warmer than the western side. The ideal temperature for a coral reef is between 68 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
Coral reefs also play an important role in managing the planet's levels of carbon dioxide. They're one of the reasons Earth is habitable, which is a great benefit to the world’s population.
There are more types of fish living in a two-acre area of coral reef than there are kinds of birds in all of North America.
Coral reefs are found in 109 countries and significant reef degradation has occurred in 93.
When corals experience even as little as a 1-2 degree temperature change over a period of time, they expel the symbiotic algae that live in their skeletons that they rely on to survive. This is called coral bleaching.
10% to 20% of the coral reefs that experience bleaching do not recover and die.
Roughly one-quarter of coral reefs worldwide are already considered damaged beyond repair.
If the current rate of degredation and die-off continues, you could see coral reefs disappear completely in just 20 or 30 years.
In addition to removing one pound of trash from the ocean and coastlines, a portion of the profits from our Limited Edition Coral Reef Bracelet goes to the Coral Restoration Foundation to support their work to protect and restore endangered reefs around the world.
Our latest shoreline cleanup at Matheson Hammock proved just how much trash can become trapped in mangroves habitats. With hundreds of participants at the cleanup, it is no wonder we collected over 5,000 pounds of trash and recyclables!
Can you guess how many bottle caps are in this picture? These small pieces of plastic have been found at all of our coastline cleanups. They're an enormous threat to marine life that can easily ingest them. They become an even bigger threat as they turn into microplastics. So what can you do to help? Recycle them!