Coral reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, housing tens of thousands of marine species. About one-third of all marine fish species live part of their lives on coral reefs.
Reefs in the Florida Keys, for example, hold at least 45 species of stony coral, 37 species of octocoral, five species of sea turtles, 500 species of fish, about 1,700 species of molluscs and hundreds of species of sponges. In addition to their incredible value as wildlife habitat, coral reefs protect coastlines from storms and provide billions of dollars of food and jobs every year to people around the world.
Coral reefs In Indian Ocean
Venture to the Indian Ocean and discover a myriad of sea creatures. Among fish, plankton, and other wonders, one cannot forget the coral. For anyone planning on a dive, they can find a variety of types of coral in this vast ocean. The Indian Ocean’s coral populations may actually rival the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.
These amazing creatures of the sea are essential for the balance of ecosystems beneath the surface of the waters. While the algae that live inside the coral uses light to produce food, the structure of the coral itself is home to many other living beings in the ocean. With changes brought on by global warming and disruption by humans, the Indian Ocean has show promise with resilient species of coral.
Blister coral, (Horastrea indica) is only found in the Indian Ocean. It is located in the western portion off of Madagascar and Tanzania. This species of coral is pale brown and is covered in blue-grey discs. It flourishes in areas where there are sandy reefs. Currently, this type of coral is being threatened by global warming, fishing practices, and pollution.
Porites profundus grow in colonies and have straight branches that taper off as they extend their reach. It manifests in brown or grey and is pale on the outside with a dark centre. It is a rare form of coral.
There are four types of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean which are the habitats for various species. They include fringing reefs, barrier reefs, atolls, and platform reefs. Each is teeming with life. The Saya Del Malha coral reef boasts of being the largest submerged bank in the world. Coral grows in the midst of a seagrass meadow of considerable size.
The Great Chagos Bank, the largest coral atoll in the world, contains over 200 varieties of coral. Stony corals located in the Indian Ocean include Sinularia, Goniopora, and Favia. A few soft corals include Dendronephthya and Nephthys. Other corals found in the depths include blue corals, red organ pipe corals, and fire corals.