The Biology of the Coral Reef

The Biology of the Coral Reef  discusses everything that happens on the coral reef. The book goes into great detail about the coral reefs. One this that I really appreciate about this book, was how the information was presented. The information was presented in great organization, and very thorough in details. Below you can see my book talk I created using an infograph.

The Biology of Coral Reefs helped me with my guiding questions by giving great detail about the coral reef and the ecosystem. One part that I found extremely interesting was when the book was discussing the symbiosis relationships that happen in the coral reef. It is amazing how animals can work together for the same goal.


Ocean Acidification

Cool Green Science blog focuses on all things science. The blog post that I focused on was ocean acidification. Ocean acidification is when carbon dioxide is entering the ocean at a fast pace which is then quickly changing the oceans chemistry. Acidification reduces corals ability to grow the skeleton it needs to build itself up.

In this blog it shares why we should care about ocean acidification. This helped my research by telling me what would happen if corals went away. It would greatly affect the food chain. We would also loose coastal protection, food and lively hood for locals, fish habitat, medicines, and tourism.


Where are the Coral Reefs?

Coral Reefs are found in shallow, warm waters. Majority of coral reefs are found below the equator line. Corals need warm water to thrive. Corals also need to be near the surface of the water to complete the process of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is when sun light is converted to energy.

This map showing where the corals live helped my research by showing me where coral reefs are found. In studying where coral reefs are found, it gives an in site of why corals need warm, shallow water to survive. Coral_reef_locations-600x210

Jewelers Divide Over Use of Coral

Coral has been in danger of humans for years. Along with coral bleaching, ocean acidification, jewelers have been harvesting coral to make jewelry. In the Mediterranean reef harvesters have been harvesting red and pink coral. In ancient times, Egyptians, Romans and Victorians believed that red coral would ward off evil spirits. These corals are harvest from the coral reefs of the Mediterranean.

Tiffanys was one of the first jewelry company to agree to stop coral harvesting. ““Coral popped on to our radar screen five or six years ago,” Michael J. Kowalski, president and chief executive of Tiffany, told a coral conservation conference in New York in October.” With jewelry companies joining the movement of saving and not harvesting from the coral reef, it will take the threat of coral harvesting away.

The news article helped my research by giving examples, history, and what companies are doing now to save the coral reefs. Jewelry companies are looking for different solutions to make “coral jewelry”. Companies are making molds and making fake coral.


While doing my research, I found out that my parents have replicas of coral. These replicas are meant to feel and look like real coral. Coral is an animal that takes hundreds of years to grow and to develop. Without coral, the coral reef would not be able to survive. Coral provides food, shelter and protection for the animals on the coral reef. Coral s the life line of the reef.

These coral artifacts helped my research by giving me a chance to touch and examine coral. I was able to feel the bumps and ridges of each piece. I was also able to understand how fragile the coral is and how easily is could break.


In Fight to Save Coral Reefs, Strategies That Work

“When marine biologist Nancy Knowlton began studying coral reefs in the early 1970s, the world’s scientists had little understanding of just how diverse and complex these ecosystems were — and the key role they played in the health of the planet’s oceans. Nor did they fully grasp the scale of the threats that would bear down on coral reefs in the coming decades.” Thanks to the work done by Knowlton, we now know the diversity of the animals that make up the coral reef and how they work together to create the most complex ecosystem in the world. During the interview with Nancy Knowlton and Yale 360, Knowlton describes that the reefs has so much more to explore and to discover on the coral reef. There are a huge number of species that have yet to be discovered.

Nancy Knowlton’s interview helped me understand my guiding questions by sharing information that she has learned while studying the coral reef. She explains how the ecosystem works together to create a system that thrives.

Life on the Coral Reef


This picture shows the important contributors in the ecosystem of the coral reef. Plankton are the Producers. Producers produce their own food. They do this by getting light from the sun and converting the sun’s energy, carbon dioxide and water to create food. This process is called photosynthesis. Phytoplankton also know as algae, is important to the food web of the coral reef because it produces 50% of the world’s oxygen in the air.

Next are the primary consumers. The primary consumers are also known as herbivores. They eat only plants. After the primary consumers are the secondary consumers. These animals eat the primary consumers. They are carnivores.

Decomposers complete the final stop in the food web. A decomposers job is to break down nutrients in the “dead” stuff and then return it back into the food chain cycle.

Healthy vs. Stressed Coral Reef Ecosystem


Many things can effect the ecosystem of the coral reef. The ecosystem is a very delicate system that needs all parts to continue to thrive. When one part disappears, the system is in jeopardy .

One thing that is effecting the coral reef, is coral bleaching. Coral bleaching is cause by climate change in the atmosphere. The coral reefs are in shallow waters near the surface, the weather has been getting warmer due to climate change, so the ocean has become warmer. Thus the very sensitive corals are being affected. Corals depend on their food called zooxanthellae that are deep in their tissues. When the water stays warm for multiple weeks, the zooxanthellae leave the tissues in the coral in thus making them white. Bleached corals are weak and cannot defend themselves from diseases.

Another thing that is effecting coral reefs is ocean acidification. This is also caused by climate change. Most of the carbon dioxide that enters the atmosphere goes into the ocean. Since the carbon dioxide in the ocean is increasing, the ocean pH level becomes more acidic. With acidification, the corals cannot absorb the calcium carbonate that they need to maintain their skeletons. Ocean acidification effects more than just corals. It effects other animals that need calcium carbonate to make their shells, like snails, urchins, and clams.


Energy Flow in the Coral Reef Ecosystem

This video shows the importance of all the parts of the ecosystem of the coral reef. The video describes the importance of each component of the system and what happens if a part of the system goes extinct or missing.

Coral Reefs are usually found near the surface of the water. The corals need the light from the sun to do the process of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process of converting sunlight into sugar which then provides food for the coral. The sun’s light provides energy to the coral to complete the process of photosynthesis. Fish and other animals eat the corals and other animals in the coral reef making every part in the coral reef vital to its survival.

In the ecosystem the sun provides energy to the plants, to the herbivores, to the carnivores, to scavengers, and to decomposers. This is a cycle that continues everyday and makes the ecosystem thrive.