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Where are Coral Reefs Located?

Updated on December 15, 2014

Where are Coral Reefs Usually Found?

Coral reefs are structures made from stony corals. These structure form when stony corals, also known as polyps, secrete calcium carbonate. The majority of coral reefs are found in shallow and warm waters, such as those in the tropics, whose temperatures range from 23-29° C (73-84° F); however, some types of corals can thrive in colder temperatures 18° C (64° F), as well as in more extreme colder temperatures. There are some regions where corals are not able to thrive, such as those along the west coast of Africa and South America. This is due primarily because of the upwelling of cooler ocean currents which lower water temperatures.

Hard Coral Reefs

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Coral ReefHard Coral Reefs
Coral Reef
Coral Reef | Source
Hard Coral Reefs
Hard Coral Reefs | Source

Coral Reefs of the World

Coral Reefs of the World
Coral Reefs of the World | Source

The Indo-Pacific Region

One of the largest coral reef structures is the Indo-Pacific region, which comprises an immense section of the Western Pacific and Eastern Indian oceans. This region of the world has geological features which allows the development of three types of reefs; barrier, fringing and atoll reefs. The vast variety of coral reef structures, as well as its biodiversity is exclusive in this part of the world. The coral reef ecosystem of this region is characterized by a vast variety of marine animal species.

At approximate number of 700 coral species and up to 3,000 marine species are known to thrive in the Indo-Pacific region. Most of the marine species of this region are concentrated in the Western coast of New Guinea, the Eastern coast of Indonesia and the southern territory of the Philippines. The number of species inhabiting the region decreases as one moves farther from it. There are still regions in the Indo-Pacific which have not been explored and it is believed that there are species of marine animals and plants yet to be discovered.

Indian Ocean Coral Reefs

Indian Coral Reefs
Indian Coral Reefs | Source

Coral Reefs

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Caribbean Region

The Caribbean region extends from south Florida to the island of Bermuda, the Bahamas; north of Cuba and Santo Domingo and the northeastern coastal region of Central America. This is the region where the second largest barrier reef, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, is situated. This Barrier Reef stretches along 1000 km (620 miles) from the Yucatan Peninsula in southwestern Mexico to the Gulf of Honduras. The Caribbean region is characterized by fringing reefs structures, such as those found along the coast of Cuba, the Bahamas and a number of smaller islands. This region also has a few atolls, one of the best known is the Glover´s atoll reef, located off the coast of Belize.

The marine biodiversity of the Caribbean includes an approximate number of 65 species of hard corals and an estimated number of 500-700 animal species. The majority of marine biodiversity in the Caribbean is concentrated in the area of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, with a decrease in marine life as distance separates it from the outer ocean water sections. The coral reefs provide protection to coastal settlements from weather phenomena, such as hurricanes and many human communities rely on the coral reef ecosystem for subsistence.

Caribbean Coral Reef Barrier

Caribbean Coral Reef Barrier
Caribbean Coral Reef Barrier | Source

Red Sea Region

The coral reef ecosystem in the Red sea region is situated in the northeast area of the Indian Ocean, between the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa. The coral reef system stretches for 2000 km (1240 miles) along the coast, and it consist in its majority of fringing reef structures. There is a minimum exchange of ocean water between the Indian Ocean and the red sea, which permits the thriving of species which are unique for the coral reef ecosystem of this region. Coral reefs along the region of the Red sea have adapted to extreme water temperature variations, as the region comprising the area in the vicinity of the red sea is characterized as one of the hottest and driest on the planet, creating great levels of evaporation, thus, turning its waters into some of the driest and hottest.

Coral reef biodiversity in this region is described by its uniqueness. From the estimated quantity of up to 12000 marine species, it is believed that around 10% of these species show characteristics that set them apart from other species. An approximate number of hard corals have been discovered in the Red Sea.

Contrasting other coral reef ecosystems along the tropics, the coral reefs in the Red Sea region has developed adaptation to variable temperatures during the summer, with about 26° C (79° F) water surface temperatures in the north and 30° C (86° F) surface water temperatures in the south. This temperatures vary 2° C (3.6° F) in the north as in the south during the winter.

Red Sea Coral Reefs

Red Sea Coral Reefs
Red Sea Coral Reefs | Source

Facts About coral Reefs

  • Coral reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems with thousands of marine species
  • One third of all marine animal species are found on coral reefs
  • The distribution of coral reefs around the world is determined by environmental conditions, such as temperature and depth
  • Hard corals require warm shallow waters to thrive
  • The shallow warm waters north or south of the equator are adequate for hard corals to grow
  • Coral reefs are found in three main Oceans of the world, including the Pacific, Caribbean and Indian Oceans
  • Corals are animals, whose individuals are known as polyps
  • Polyps secrete calcium carbonate, over time, as each individual polyp dies, it adds to the structure of a coral reef

The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest Coral Reef Structure in the world, extending for more than 2,300 km (1,400 miles) over an area of approximately 344,00 square km (133,000 square miles) off the north-east coast of Australia. This structure is considered as the largest reef constructed by living organisms. This reef structure comprises more than 400 types of coral, up to 1,500 species of marine life and 4,000 type species of molluscs.

Great Barrier Reef

Coral Reefs

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Coral reefs are located along this area at the tropics


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