Coral Reef Information:

Coral reefs are found in coastal marine areas where the water temperature is at least 20° celsius (68°F). They lie on the continental shelf that extends under the ocean along a continent, in the neritic zone. The coral reef is one of the most productive ecosystems in the world, producing more plant and animal life per cubic meter of space than the other aquatic ecosystems. Corals form the basis of the ocean floor, consisting of small colonial animals that produce a tiny shell in massive colonies. Reef animals are often brilliantly colored to the human eye, but not to the inhabitants, because the fish cannot see color. They are actually camouflaged by their color patterns. Nutrient levels on reefs are VERY low and pollution influx of sewage can destroy a reef. Sunlight availability is very high. The major producers are algaes of many types and the major consumers are the fishes and turtles, such as green sea turtles, angel fish, gobies, sharks, rays, and parrot fish.

Blue Linkia starfish are grazers on the sea floor of coral reefs..

By Richard Ling (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-SA-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the best known symbioses known - clownfish and anemone.

By Janderk (Photographed by Jan Derk) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Small fish such as the Anthias here abound on coral reefs.

By Daviddarom (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The lionfish is a venomous species of fish that is well known on reefs.

By Tobias Biehl [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons.

Soft coral species on a coral reef.

By Linda Wade [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons.

Coral Reef Distribution Map

By NASA, public domain

Location of most coral reefs based on water temperature:

by US CIA, Public Domain