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Corals in the Bahamas and Americas
Transcript of Corals in the Bahamas and Americas
By: Kayla Duarte
Corals get their energy from zooxanthellae, a type of algae. The algae live in the coral polyps and, using photosynthesis, the energy that is produced is transferred to the polyp. The polyp then provides the algae with carbon dioxide to fuel photosynthesis.
Coral also eat zooplankton by catching them. The mouth of the coral is surrounded by stinging tentacles so when the prey touch them, they become paralyzed and the corals consumes it.
Sunlight & Water Temperature
Water Depth & Ocean Salinity and pH
Deeper water causes less sunlight to reach the coral. This makes the zooxanthellae decrease their rate of photosynthesis so the coral receives less energy.
When ocean acidification occurs and the pH of the ocean drops, the coral cannot absorb calcium carbonate which is vital in keeping their skeletons strong. Without the calcium carbonate their skeletons will dissolve. The drop in pH is the product of an abundance of carbon dioxide in the air and the ocean absorbing too much of it. This is another problem with the American and Bahamian reefs. Oceana currently has a campaign to reduce ocean acidification for my chosen area and they are also calling for help to reduce carbon emissions, especially from the USA.
Coral Reefs in Ecosystems
Coral reefs are vital to their ecosystems. They provide a home for over one million marine species. Without the corals these creatures, like the bluehead wrasse in the Bahamas Barrier Reef, would be susceptible to the harsh ocean and they would not survive. They also act as a buffer between waves and the shore. They take some of the brunt of the waves and therefore decrease erosion on the shore. The Bahamas are currently facing erosion to their shores due to their dying reef issues. The island shores simply cannot withstand the powerful waves without the coral reefs.
The base is the end opposite of the tentacles and it is attached to the substrate. They typically have a central mouth surrounded by a ring of tentacles. The skeleton of the coral is composed of calcium carbonate.
The fringed coral reef is classified by its lacking lagoon and backreef. They can even grow directly from the shore.
Coral grows best in sunny, clear, moving water. But, too much sunlight can cause zooxanthellae to photosynthesize too much, creating an overabundance of oxygen in the water. This harms the coral and can be toxic to them. Also, if the water temperature is too low, bacteria and algae can overpopulate and cause harm to the coral by spreading diseases like black-band and yellow-band disease.
High water temperatures can cause bleaching to occur which is fatal to coral.
Mouths and Stinging Tentacles
Thousands of species of fish call coral reefs their home.
Trophic Levels of Coral
Coral reefs bring in tourists from all over the world. Tourism in the Bahamas brings in over $1.3 billion a year and many of these tourists go to admire the coral reefs and take a day to go scuba diving around them.
Coral reefs also boost the fishing industry.In the USA, the fishing industry makes over $100 million a year just from coral reef fishing.
There is also an opportunity to derive medicines to treat diseases, like cancer and heart disease, from coral. This is a field that has just been opened and is still being explored.
A tourist scuba dives among the coral reefs.
Human's Affect on coral
Humans can cause great harm to coral reefs. Air pollution results in ocean acidification and increased traffic through coral reefs damages and breaks them. More tourists and fishers allows for a greater opportunity to harm the coral. Also, oil spills have hurt the coral.
Pollution from the Mississippi River, flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, affects coral reefs as well. Fertilizers, trash, and other toxic materials dump into the Gulf and the corals cannot handle it so they suffer from America's carelessness.
An oil spill kills coral.
Diseases such as black-band and yellow-band devastate a coral's health. In 2006, an outbreak of disease among coral reefs in Lee Stocking, Bahamas affected the ecosystem dramatically. Diseases can kill the coral if not treated and this will leave thousands of species homeless and in harm's way.
Diseases in the Americas' and Bahama's coral reefs
Fringed reefs make up the coral reefs around the Americas and the Bahamas.
When the ocean water temperature becomes to high, the coral expel zooxanthellaw into the water which causes the coral to turn white. Now, the main source of energy for the coral is gone and they will die.
The Mesoamerican Reef in Central America is being bleached and it is the greatest threat right now. As a result, their marine resources are plummeting.
Coral bleaching extents
Reefs At Risk
Coral deprived of calcium carbonate
Fringed Coral Reef Structure