Some people might think that Coral Reefs are just fish and their homes, but it is so much more. Amazing Florida coral reefs take it to a whole new level and the reef is an entire ecosystem. It is a whole new world down there. What is an ecosystem you ask. It is animals or living organisms acting together or doing there part in their home. I will be explaining a coral reef’s ecosystem, what the reef is, what animals live there and, the threats that come to the ecosystem.
A lot of people believe that coral reef is made up of rocks. It is actually made up out of tiny animals called polyps. Layers and layers of polyps join to make the reef. Coral is a living creature and the holes in it help catch food. They open up to catch food day or night depending on how much phytoplankton is available. There are some main types of coral in the Florida Keys: Fan Coral, Brain Coral, and Fire Coral. Fan Coral is given it’s name because of looking like a fan. It is also considered a soft coral. It comes in different colors including egg white, red, pink and yellow along with many other colors. Brain Coral is given it’s name because it looking like a human brain. It is a hard coral and also comes in some of the same colors like Fan Coral. Fire Coral is not given it’s name because of looks but because of it’s touch. Many people mistake it as seaweed and get hurt because of it’s tentacles that sting. The sting is very close to the sting of a Jelly Fish. It is also a hard coral and it’s color is mostly red but it loses it’s color after it goes into depth. Here are the fish!
Some common Fish species include the Parrot Fish, Tangs, Grunts and Yellow tail Snappers. Parrot fish live there for their food supply and a home. They are known to eat the coral , digest it and this becomes sand. Some common Parrot fish colors are blue, rainbow and orange with blue stripes. Yellow tail snappers live there for surviving and eating smaller fish. They live at depths close to the surface and spawn heavily in mid-summer. Grunts live at reefs that are usually at the depth of 30 meters and they eat algae at the reef. Blue Tangs live there because they enjoy the supply of algae along with plankton. They mostly swim in schools around the reef.
Sometimes reefs look beautiful but when threats roll in it doesn’t look so well. The biggest threats of a coral reef are big waves from storms or hurricanes and it breaks apart the polyps. Just the sunlight can dry out the tissue and kill the coral. Even Parrot fish are a threat because they eat the coral. Some coral may heal from this but if too many polyps are stressed out they will all die. If you think that the reef is not important let me tell you, you are dead wrong! They are home to many things including fish, sharks, starfish, and snails. It is also so special that it is protected by us because it is hurt by many people and things. It is hurt by many people because they take off of part of the reef to keep or to look at. Many animals and things hurt it by eating and using it as food. It is so big and important it is kind of hard not to miss it. Coral Reefs are so important you may never know the wonderful pieces of life and information that live there.
Just remember how special and important coral reefs in Florida can be to you and of course the fish!