Coral bleaching The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US has announced that the rising temperature of ocean waters has triggered coral bleaching across tropical parts of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans. Corals all over the world are in danger of being wiped out. Even though they cover only 0.1% of the sea bed, coral reefs, often called the “rainforests” of the ocean, are home to 25% of ocean species, which are dependent on them for their food. Corals are vital to ocean ecosystems, with even many non-reef species dependent on them. Most open-ocean fish, such as tuna, start their lives as larvae feeding in the waters of coral reefs. The disappearance of coral would have devastating effects on ocean life.
Coral reefs teem with life
Coral owe their colours to the presence of algae
A coral reef is is formed from the hard skeletons of tiny animals: coral polyps, or corals for short. They live together in colonies of millions of individuals. Corals are marine invertebrates, related to sea anemones and jellyfish. Each measures only a few millimetres across. They have what biologists call a symbiotic relationship (a close and long-term interaction between two different species) with algae called zooxanthellae. The algae actually live inside the bodies of the corals. In return for providing them with a habitat, the corals receive nutrients from the algae.
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