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Red Sea Coral Reef

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Jason Chen

on 6 February 2015

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Transcript of Red Sea Coral Reef

Located at 24.846565 latitude east and 35.507812 longitude north is the Red Sea. Since the Red Sea is a “young” ocean, it’s still in its early stages of formation. The corals extends over 1,240 miles long and only about 1600 feet deep; lying between the Arabian Peninsula and Africa. The Red Sea most famous for its extensive fringing reef systems. Since this biome is filled with a variety of fishes and corals under the seas, it’s known as a “marine biome”. Marine biomes fill ups three fourths of the earth creating an ecosystem full of different species of underwater animals and plants.
In the Red Sea, there are many relationships between different species. It is important to have these relationships because it keeps species alive to keep the ecosystem running. A few examples of relationships are Predator-prey, Mutualism, and Commensalism.
Coral Reefs only make up 1% of the ocean floor, but they provide shelter for 25% of animal life in the ocean. They also serve as food for many animals. The sun is the source of energy for the coral reef ecosystem. Plants such as phytoplankton convert light energy into chemical energy through photosynthesis. Reef building corals work with microscopic algae, also known as zooxanthellae, that live in their tissues. The importance of zooxanthellae is, it provides oxygen and food to the coral. As the animals eat the plants (and other animals), energy is passed through the food chain. This is known as symbiosis - a mutually beneficial relationship between two different species.
Reefs usually develop in areas that have a lot of wave because the waves bring in food; nutrients and oxygen for reef. Waves also prevent sediment from falling on the reef. The Red Sea is surrounded by one of the hottest and driest areas on earth. The extreme air temperatures result in high levels of evaporation, causing the Red Sea to be one of the hottest and saltiest bodies of water in the world. The Red Sea corals have developed high tolerance to the high temperatures, salinity, and occasional turbidity (due to the seasonal dust storms). However, warm waters often provide reefs with calcium. The average surface water temperature of coral reefs waters are 68-82 Fahrenheit, but the Red Sea average is 82 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and 93 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. The average salinity is 40 parts per thousand compared to 35-36 ppt in the tropical Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The Red Sea is home for species of corals and animals that adapted to survive these extreme conditions.
The Red Sea reefs provide homes to over 1,100 different species and nearly 10% of them are exclusive to this region. Of those 1,100 species, they’re split into two major groups; animals with backbones (vertebrates) and those without (invertebrates). However, one thing all these species have in common, is their goal of escaping from their predators. Animals that live in the Red Sea have evolved in structure and color to escape and survive.
Red Sea Coral Reef
Alice Mungyu and Jason Chen
Environmental Science Pd. 5

Other Abiotic Factors
Rocks: Provides shelter for species.

Soil: Provides physical support for plants; plants anchor their roots to the soil to avoid getting blown away.

Sand - Sand also provides shelter
for some species.
A plant found in the Red Sea is Seagrasses. Seagrasses are commonly found at the base of the reefs crust. They adapted to the strong waves by growing stronger roots. Having these stronger roots allows them to grow and play their part in the ecosystem; feeding fishes, turtles, dugongs, etc.
Butterfly Fish
The Butterfly Fish, also known as Chaetodon semilarvatus, evolved thin and flattened bodies. Having this trait allows them to make sharp turns allowing them to maneuver quickly to escape from their predators. However, their flat bodies aren’t only used to escape from predators. They’ve adapted to the solid reef by having a flat body to move easily through the water while avoiding collisions.
The Lionfish, also known as Pterois miles, is native to the Red Sea. Lionfishes are often found near corals, they adapted to the environment by having the same the same color and shape as corals. Their spikes looks like coral reefs, so other species might mistaken it a plant allowing them to easily catch their prey.
The Parrotfish, also known as Scarus collana, have evolved large, beak-like mouths. Over the years, they've adapted beak-like mouths to scrape off microalgae. Since the Parrotfish is a small fish, they feed off microalgae, by having a beak-like mouth and sharp teeth, they can easily access their food.
Predator - Prey
Predator-prey is an interaction between the predator (a hunting specie) feeds on a prey (the specie getting attacked). It is really important for the predator to catch it’s prey to get the nutrition and energy they need to survive. An example in the Red Sea is the Grey reef shark (predator) and bony fish (prey). Grey reef sharks are one of the fastest sharks, their speed allows them to easily catch fishes. This is an example of a predator-prey relationship, because one benefits (shark) while the other (fish) is harmed.
Mutualism is the interaction between two species, where each individual benefits from the activity of the other. Mutually beneficial partnerships among species play a high role in keeping the Earth’s ecosystems running. An example of mutualism in the Red Sea is the shrimp and corals. The shrimp cleans the bacteria off the coral (as a source of food) and the coral will have no more bacteria. This is an example of mutualism because both species benefit from each other and neither is harmed. The shrimp won’t eat the coral and the coral won’t eat the shrimp.
Commensalism is when only one specie benefits while the other derives neither benefit nor harm. A commensalism relationship is important for many species of small fishes. To avoid their predators, they often hide in corals. An example of commensalism in the Red Sea is Anemonefish (Clownfish) and Sea Anemone. Unlike other species of fish, Anemonefish have a layer of mucus to protect them from getting shocked by the tentacles of Sea Anemones. While the fish is protected from its predators, the plant isn’t affected. The fish doesn’t eat the plant, so the plant isn’t harmed while the fish benefits.
Divergent evolution is the accumulation of similarities between two different species; hinting they may have came from the same original ancestors. An example of divergent evolution is the the Filefish (left picture) and Triggerfish (right picture). Their hunting habits and looks hint that they may have the same original ancestors.
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"Coral Reef Fish." Es. Web. 31 Jan. 2015. <http://www.coral-reef-info.com/coral-reef-fishes.html>.
"Red Sea Reef." Seven Natural Wonders Red Sea Reef Comments. 11 Dec. 2008. Web. 31 Jan. 2015. <http://sevennaturalwonders.org/africa/red-sea-reef/>.
Pictures taken courtesy from Google.
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