Coral reef

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Coral reef

Source: Justin Wong

It can be very hard for us to look at coral reefs and understand the complexity of the life form, particularly the way the coral manage to grow and feed off different elements all while acting as a cradle of life for so many other different species. Even though placing a monetary value on coral reefs is a next-to-impossible calculation, estimates suggest they provide us with billions of dollars in free economic services annually in terms of coastal protection, food production and tourism. Corals are tiny animals which belong to the group cnidaria, and they live in colonies of individuals.  These individuals, or polyps, secrete a hard calcium carbonate substance that ends up as the coral’s exoskeleton.  Reefs typically grow in shallow waters that are clear and have ample sunlight. Often considered the “rainforest” of the ocean for their biodiversity, the existence of coral reefs is greatly threatened by climate change.  Estimates have stated that up to 70 percent of all coral reefs could be lost by the year 2050 at the present rate of climate change, leading to untold consequences for our oceans and coastlines.