A General Presentation on the Diversity of Coral Reef Formations

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Table of Contents

  • How are Coral Reefs Formed?
  • Introduction
  • One of three forms
  • The Barrier Reef
  • Atoll Reef
  • How Can You Protect Coral Reefs?
  • Conclusion

How are Coral Reefs Formed?


Coral reefs are a beautiful ecosystem that live in the ocean, but as beautiful as it is; it is just as important to the marine ecosystem. Coral reefs help over four thousand different species of fish. There is also said that an estimate of one to eight million unknown species of organisms, and the scientist believe that they could possibly use the unknow species of organisms as cures for things like: bacterial infections, arthritis, or even cancer. Many times, coral reefs bring a lot of tourist in result it flourishes many economies, coral reefs are estimated to be $375 billion yearly!

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One of three forms

Figure A Fringing reef

Firstly, all coral reefs begin as some floating coral larvae that is riding that ocean waves until it connects to a submerged rock or any other hard surface. There are three different forms that this coral larva can become, the first form it can become is a fringing reef. A fringing reef has the highest chance of happening. Fringing reefs that are around the shoreline and are sometimes used as a tourist attraction. A fringing reef can grow hundreds of yards, it is common for large patches of see grass to grow behind the reef due to the abundance of nutrients that it has.

The Barrier Reef

Figure A Barrier reef

The Barrier reef and the Fringing reef look similar. Many times, they can be mistaken as one another. The way you can tell them apart is by looking at the lagoon that the reef is situated in. A Barrier reef will have some deep pockets towards the back of the reef, while a Fringing reef will not have any deep pockets. Another way to tell is by looking at the distance the reefs are from the shore. A fringing reef is relatively close to a shoreline, while a Barrier reef could be a mile from the shore.

Atoll Reef

Figure 3 Atoll Reef

The final reef of the group is the Atoll Reef, this reef is unique because this type of reef attaches around an island in a circle shape. It is common to see a shallow lagoon that is in a shape of a circle in the center as seen in the graphic above. There are often two to three channels that lead to the ocean into the more frigid temperature of water. An atoll reef can only be formed on top of a submarine mountain. A submarine mountain is a remnant of a volcano that used to be there. It is said that it would start as a fringing reef when the volcano was there but when the volcano submerges the coral grows up into the surface. What is left behind is a ring or coral reefs that surrounds a deep part of the ocean.

How Can You Protect Coral Reefs?

Figure 4 Protecting our reefs

Coral reefs are important by providing income, food and so much more. We are losing these reefs rapidly and we need to start protecting them of it could be the extinction of many animals and organisms. Some the things that are destroying these coral reefs are global climate change, pollution, bleaching and invasive species. If we do lose coral reefs it will be an environmental and economic disaster around the world! The first step to saving this ecosystem is by conserving the water we have. This means that the less wastewater that pollutes our ocean. The next step is by recycling your trash. The final step is to volunteer at a coral reef clean up where people of all ages can join and help clean the ocean!


Coral reefs are grouped into three major types of reefs fringing, barrier, and atoll reefs. As appealing these reefs look they are just as important to us and our ecosystem. It’s important for us to take care of our reefs.

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