Coral reefs are colonies of tiny living animals found in marine waters that contain few nutrients. Coral reefs are mostly underwater, which in rare cases grow out of the water, structures made from calcium carbonate secreted by corals. Coral reefs cover less than one per cent of the world’s oceans but support incredible biodiversity. Check out some of the unique structures made from calcium carbonate secreted by corals.
Coral and Mangrove, Zanzibar, Tanzania, East Africa
Surrounded by the Indian Ocean, Zanzibar archipelago possesses rich marine resources that have been poorly exploited compared to neighbouring coastline on the mainland of East Africa. Its marine habitat consisting of coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves and sandy beaches harbours a diversity of vertebrate and invertebrate species.
Other Zanzibar's marine resources include coral reefs, seagrass beds, and sandy beaches. With more than 200,000 sq. km of coral reefs and plenty of seagrass beds, the undersea marine environment is one of the best in East Africa.
New Caledonia Barrier Reef
The New Caledonia Barrier Reef is located in New Caledonia in the South Pacific, and is the second-longest double-barrier coral reef in the world, after Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
The New Caledonia Barrier reef surrounds Grande Terre, New Caledonia's largest island, as well as the Ile des Pins and several smaller islands, reaching a length of 1,500 kilometres (930 mi).
Most of the reefs are generally thought to be in good health. Some of the eastern reefs have been damaged by effluent from nickel mining on Grand Terre. Sedimentation from mining, agriculture, and grazing has affected reefs near river mouths, which has been worsened by the destruction of mangrove forests, which help to retain sediment. Some reefs have been buried under several metres of silt. In January 2002, the French government proposed listing New Caledonia's reefs as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,600 kilometres (1,600 mi) over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres (133,000 sq mi). The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia.
The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space and is the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms. This reef structure is composed of and built by billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps. It supports a wide diversity of life and was selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981.
Tubbataha Reef Marine Park in Philippines
The Tubbataha Reef (Filipino: Bahurang Tubbataha) is an atoll coral reef and a Natural Marine Park in Sulu Sea, Philippines composing of two huge atoll (the North Atoll and South Atoll) and the smaller Jessie Beazley Reef. The park is a Marine Protected Area (MPA) located 150 kilometres (93 mi) southeast of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan according to the reefs' official website but according to United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the reefs are 181 kilometres (112 mi) southeast of Puerto Princesa City.
The reefs are considered part of the island municipality of Cagayancillo, Palawan, which is located roughly 130 kilometres (81 mi) to the northeast of the reef.
The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef in Belize
Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, Belize. The largest barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere lies 980 feet from shore and stretches for 25 miles within the country’s limits. The site identified by UNESCO is actually part of one of the largest barrier reefs in the world – the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System that extends from Cancun to Honduras.
One of the most beautiful features of the Balize Barrier Reef system is the “Balize Blue Hole.”
Popular for scuba diving and snorkeling, the Balize Barrier Reef is quite possibly Balize’s top tourist attraction, as well as being vital to the country’s fishing industry.
There are almost 450 cays within the barrier reef, and atolls range from small sand spits to permanent islands. Three of these large atolls, Turneffe Island, Lighthouse Reef, and Glover’s Reef, have been settled by locals.
Coral reef, Federated States of Micronesia
The Federated States of Micronesia Listeni is an independent sovereign island nation consisting of four states – from west to east, Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae – that are spread across the Western Pacific Ocean.
Together, the states comprise around 607 islands (a combined land area of approximately 702 km2 (271 sq mi)) that cover a longitudinal distance of almost 2,700 km (1,678 mi) just north of the equator. They lie northeast of New Guinea, south of Guam and the Marianas, west of Nauru and the Marshall Islands, east of Palau and the Philippines, about 2,900 km (1,802 mi) north of eastern Australia and some 4,000 km (2,485 mi) southwest of the main islands of Hawaii.
Red Sea Coral Reef
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez (leading to the Suez Canal). The Red Sea is a Global 200 ecoregion. The sea is underlain by the Red Sea Rift which is part of the Great Rift Valley.
The Red Sea has a surface area of roughly 438,000 km² (169,100 mi²). It is about 2250 km (1398 mi) long and, at its widest point, 355 km (220.6 mi) wide. It has a maximum depth of 2211 m (7254 ft) in the central median trench, and an average depth of 490 m (1,608 ft). However, there are also extensive shallow shelves, noted for their marine life and corals. The sea is the habitat of over 1,000 invertebrate species, and 200 soft and hard corals. It is the world's northernmost tropical sea.