ENVIS Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Wednesday, July 15, 2020

underwater forests

'underwater forests':
    Corals are small (sea anemone-like) colony-forming marine invertebrate animals from the class Anthozoa of phylum Cnidaria. They are without the head and are radially symmetrical
1.What are ‘corals’?


    Corals are small (sea anemone-like) colony-forming marine invertebrate animals from the class Anthozoa of phylum Cnidaria. They are without the head and are radially symmetrical.
    Some of them feed on plankton.
    Some are ‘reef-builders’, which secrete CaCO3 to form a hard skeleton – reefs – around them. The coral reefs are colourful, that way they are attractive and very pleasant to look at. The colour, size, shape or design of the coral reefs vary according to the coral-genus that produce the reef.
    They grow well in the depth range of 30–70 m and over the temperatures of 20–30°C. They are really fascinating that when we look at them in their natural habitat, they give the impression, as if some other wonderful world has appeared before us in our world. We have placed few coral reef pictures in this site for you to see and admire at the beauty.
 

2.Do all the corals produce reefs?


    No.
    Reef-building corals are called stony corals; the others are known as soft corals.


3.How are the corals distributed globally?


    The reef-building corals are seen in the tropical and subtropical Western Atlantic and Indo-Pacific oceans, generally between 30° N and 30° S latitudes. The soft corals (which do not build reefs) are found in Polar Regions too.


4.Which is the largest coral reef system in the world?


    The Great Barrier Reef (Queensland, Australia) is the largest in the world.

5.Mention few other well-known reefs in the world.


    The Belize Barrier Reef (Belize, Central America)
    The New Caledonia Barrier Reef (New Caledonia, South Pacific)
    The Andros, Bahamas Barrier Reef (Bahamas, Atlantic Ocean, southeast of United States)
    The Red Sea Coral Reef (Red Sea)
    Pulley Ridge (Southwestern Florida, United States)
    Numerous reefs of Maldives (Indian Ocean)

6.Do we have coral reefs in Indian waters?


    Yes, in six regions: Gulf of Kachchh, Lakshadweep, Gulf of Mannar (National Marine Park & the first Marine Biosphere Reserve in southeast Asia, recognised by UNESCO), Palk Bay, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the table reefs of Ratnagiri coast.

7.Are corals useful to us?


    Very much yes, in many-many ways.
    They provide shelter to thousands of edible fishes – our good source of protein – which won’t be able to survive without the reef ecosystem.
    They protect us from the natural calamities like storms, stabilize the shoreline changes and prevent soil erosion.
    Being lovely, exquisite, colourful and wonderful creations of the Mother Nature, they provide us great recreation-spots, attract tourists and help us earn more money too in foreign exchange.
    Apart from fishes, many other vertebrates and invertebrates, so also plants depend on coral reef ecosystem for their lives.
    Their hard structures are used in jewellery; for example, red colour coral is often used as gemstone.
    Coral reef is an important source of lime.
    They have tremendous medicinal potential, especially, to prepare drugs to treat cancer, arthritis, human bacterial infection, heart disease, viruses, etc.

8.What is the present status of the corals?


    Not really good!
    We, the humans, have overexploited the resources there besides destroying the poor beautiful creatures (corals) through mining and destructing methods of fishing. Pollution has also impaired the excellent ecosystem. Sometimes Nature also shows its fury through tsunami, earthquake and storm, and destroys them. Due to these reasons, almost 60% of the coral reefs, worldwide, have become degraded. About 10% of the reefs are irrecoverably damaged.

9.What will happen to us without corals?


    Coral reefs shelter many thousands of species of plants and animals (such as algae, fish, crabs, urchins, sponges), which will perish without the reef ecosystem.
    We will not have enough food fishes. No beautiful fascinating underwater structure will be there to make us happy.
    We will not have any guardian-structure to protect our shorelines, reduce the impact of waves and storms and save our lives.
    We will not have any attractive marine tourist- and recreation-spots, which will drastically affect the economy of many counties where tourism is the main income-generating sector.

10.What are all our responsibilities in the backdrop of fast degradation of corals?


    We need to stop damaging the corals further by prohibiting the following activities:
        dumping of the pollutants and other hazardous wastes into the sea;
        overfishing;
    disturbing the corals by boat anchoring and careless snorkelling by tourists; destruction of mangroves; etc.
    We need to protect the existing corals and sustain them.
    Programmes like coral restoration and coral recruitment should be employed to enhance their growth and development.
    Important coral-reef areas to be set as ‘marine protected areas’ and ‘biosphere reserves’ (e.g., Gulf of Mannar).

11.What do we do in our ENVIS Centre for the corals?


    We collect scientific information on corals and researches related to them for the dissemination mainly to the ecologists, researchers, public, policymakers and others.

12.Why do we need scientific information on coral reefs?

    estuaries
    mangroves
    coral reefs
    lagoons

    Through publications, website-service, abstract-service, reprint-service, library-service, answering queries, explaining to the college and school students who visit us during their field-trips and the delegates of conferences, workshops and seminars related to our core subjects.
 

13.How do we learn about corals?

    By trying to answer questions, such as:

        What are they?
        How do they look like?
        Where do they live?
        How are they distributed on our globe?
        What do they feed on?
        How do they reproduce?
        How are we, humans, troubling them?
        Are they affected by storms and other natural calamities?
        What are their uses to humans as well as to other animals and plants?
        What is their role in evolution?
        (and much more)


14.How do we (ENVIS) disseminate the scientific information on coral reefs and on our other core subjects?

    estuaries
    mangroves
    coral reefs
    lagoons
    
    Through publications, website-service, abstract-service, reprint-service, library-service, answering queries, explaining to the college and school students who visit us during their field-trips and the delegates of conferences, workshops and seminars related to our core subjects.