Coral reefs are the keystone species of some of the world’s most important and oldest ecosystems. They are amazing delicate organisms, belong to the phylum Cnidaria. Corals are singular polyps which band together, to form a large colonial structure. Coral reefs consist of ‘hard’ corals which create calcium carbonate exoskeletons from sea water for protecting their soft, sac-like bodies. Most corals have a mutualistic relationship with zooxanthellae a kind of algae, which produces food for itself and the polyps through photosynthesis, and in turn the polyps provide them protection. It is these algae species which give corals their various exotic colours.
Coral reefs are biodiversity hotspots, thousands of fish species and other organisms live in these reefs. But these reefs are in immense danger, in the last year. Many reefs have bleached due to destruction of the reefs due to over-fishing, change in water temperature, and marine water pollution.
Almost half of the world’s coral reefs have died, the Great Barrier Reef being one of the most prominent ones. These magnificent wonders have to preserved, as they are the key to maintaining healthy marine ecosystems, and are an integral part of our planet’s natural history.