Essay about Coral Reefs: At Risk

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Coral reefs are diverse ecosystems that emanate great beauty while providing a home to many marine inhabitants. Coral reefs, being a marine ecosystem, are extremely important for the overall health of the surrounding environment. They provide food and shelter to a large bio-diverse population. Coral reefs are among the world’s oldest, most diverse, and most productive ecosystems (Miller and Hackett 129). Coral reefs are found in shallow coastal regions of warm tropical and subtropical oceans. Coral reefs are formed by massive colonies of tiny animals called polyps. The polyps build reefs by secreting a protective crust of calcium carbonate around their bodies. When the polyps die their empty crusts remain as a platform for more reef …show more content…
A number of forces threaten the survival of coral reefs and the organisms that depended on them. Coral reefs worldwide are in serious decline because of coral disease and bleaching primarily brought on by underlining human induced disturbances.

A healthy coral reef requires moderate water temperatures, clear and clean water, and an intricate series of interacting organisms, plants, and animals. Coral reefs are delicate structures and anything that disrupts the dynamics of its environment can be detrimental. Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of the earth's atmospheric and oceanic temperatures. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the influence of human activities has been deeply intertwined with global warming. Global warming has an immense potential to alter ecosystem functioning and consequently alter the functioning of the plants, the animals and the other life forms that live within the ecosystem. On a global scale, atmospheric emis-sions of greenhouse gases are causing ocean temperatures to increase, pH levels to decrease (resulting in ocean acidification), and sea levels to rise, according to the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Most coral reefs can not tolerate an increase in temperature and a lower pH. Coral polyps use calcium from sea-water to create their hard skeletons in a process called calcifica-tion. Experimental studies indicate that increases in

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