Coral Reefs - Study Is My Buddy 2015

Handley et al “Geography Focus Stage 4” Pearson: Sydney p82
“The Rainforests of the Sea”
We need to study the interactions that
exist within coral reefs so they we can
make recommendations to ensure these
ecosystems exist in the future
What’s so important about Coral Reefs
Coral reefs have been referred to as the “Rainforests of the Sea”.
Every coral reef contains a wide and colourful variety of plants and
animals. These plants and animals have been used to make
medicines to treat cancer, HIV, cardiovascular diseases and ulcers.
Scientists are currently researching coral varieties for a vaccine
against sunburn!
Coral reefs are one of the Earth’s significant biomes even
though they are found in less than 1% of the world’s oceans.
They are important because: Provide habitat for ¼ of all known marine fish species
 Protect the coast from wave attack and erosion
 Are a food source for much of the world's population
 Contain medicines and cures for disease
 Provide income for many countries through tourism.
Handley et al (207) “Geography Focus Stage 4” Pearson: Sydney p82
Cloze Passage - Coral Reefs
Coral reefs are one of the most important ____________ in the world. Many
scientists refer to them as the “Tropical Rainforests” of the sea because of their
_____________. Coral reefs cover only 1% of the earth’s surface, and yet
over 25% of fish species live in this ____________.
Coral reefs are very ___________ ecosystems; even small changes in the
environment can cause widespread _________________. They must be
______________ carefully if they are to survive for future generations.
Kleeman et al “Global Explorations Stage 44” Heinemann: Melbourne p226
Where are Coral Reefs located?
Coral reefs are found in shallow, open, coastal waters. They require
very specific conditions to form
There are extensive coral reefs in many tropical waters. Though not
all tropical waters have coral reefs and not all coral reefs are in
Handley et al “Geography Focus Stage 4” Pearson: Sydney p82
tropical waters
Spatial Dimension of Coral Reefs
Atmospheric Geographical Process
In the study of geography, the spatial dimension describes and compares patterns of
where environmental factors are located. In other words, why are coral reefs
located where they are? What is it about these locations that make the conditions
suitable for a coral reef environment.
Coral reefs develop in shallow, warm water, usually near land, and mostly in the
tropics. They prefer temperatures between 21 - 30 °C. The specific conditions
required for a coral reef environment are:Water Clarity – Coral requires sunlight to grow and thus are found up to a
depth of 25m. They do not live above the tide level as they cannot survive out
of the water
Water temperature – Warm water ideally around 26 °C. These waters are
usually found between latitudes of 25 °N and 25 °S.
Salt Water
Handley et al (2007)” Geography Focus Stage Four” Pearson: Sydney
Types of Reefs
Geomorphic Geographical Process
There are four different types of reefs:Fringing reefs form along a coastline. They grow on the continental shelf in shallow
Barrier reefs grow parallel to shorelines, but farther out, usually separated from the
land by a deep lagoon. They form a barrier between the lagoon and the seas.
Coral Atolls begin as fringe reefs surrounding a
volcanic island; then, as the volcano sinks, the reef
continues to grow, and eventually only the reef
Patch reefs are small isolated reefs that grow up
from the bottom of the island platform. When they
reach the surface a small coral cay may form.
Handley et al (2007)” Geography Focus Stage Four” Pearson: Sydney
Coral Reefs
Hydrologic Geographical Process
Coral reefs are made up of millions of
individual animals called coral
polyps. Coral polyps are the basic
building blocks of the coral reef.
The calcium carbonate gives the coral
their shape. The polyps feed off
zooplankton, tiny animals that are in
reef waters.
Zooxanthellae are the algae that grow
in the coral polyp and it is the algae
that gives the coral polyps their range
of colours.
Handley et al (2007) Geography Focus Stage 4 Pearson: Sydney p86-7
The Coral Reef Ecosystem
Biotic Geographical Process
Coral reefs have conditions that create a vibrant, diverse ecosystem. Coral
reefs are characterised by large limestone structures known as coral. Coral
provides shelter, hiding places and food to other animals living in a coral reef
The coral reef has a very tightly connected ecosystem. Damage to one part of
a coral reef can harm the whole ecosystem
Coral Reefs are one of the Earth’s significant biomes
even though they are found in less than 1% of the
world’s oceans. They provide homes for a wide variety
of marine animals and planets.
Symbiotic relationships exist within the Coral Reef
Ecosystem. These mutually beneficial interactions
between the animals of the ecosystem are clearly
shown in the relationship of the Clown Fish and the
Food Web of the Coral Reef Ecosystem
Parrot Fish
Four Eyed Butterfly Fish
Small Fish
Sting Ray
Coral Polyp
Finding Nemo
Disney’s film provides a beautiful portrayal of a Coral Reef environment.
Whilst watching a portion of the film, select 5 animals that you believe are
authentic to the Coral Reef environment and draw them in your workbook.
Poster Activity
Construct a Poster for our classroom wall. Select ONE coral
reef animal and make a poster that features –
 An image of the animal
 A description of the animal
 An outline of the Specific habitat and diet of the animal
 An example is on the next slide….
Handley et al (2007) Geography Focus Stage 4 Pearson: Sydney p91
Clown Fish
Clown fish are bright orange with distinctive white stripes. They are found
in the Red Sea and tropical Pacific Ocean and on Australia’s Great Barrier
Reef. They live on the ocean floor in a very close relationship with the
The anemone is poison to other fish, and yet the Clown Fish is unaffected
by it. The clown fish lets the anemone kill other fish, and then eats the
leftovers. It also eats plankton, shellfish and the dead tentacles of the
anemone. There are over 1000 species of anemone, but only ten act as a
host for the clown fish.
There are 28 species of true clown fish, which has few predators. The
largest threat comes from humans who try to catch clown fish in order to
keep them as pets in their fish tanks.
Kleeman et al “Global Explorations Stage 44” Heinemann: Melbourne p227
Threats to Coral Reefs
Many coral reefs are dying. The Pacific Ocean is the safest area for reefs, however
the South East Asian coral reefs are at high risk of destruction.
Most threats to Coral Reefs are a direct result of human activities.
1. Trade in Coral Reef Animals
2. Fishing
3. Tourism
4. Coastal Development
5. Farming
Major threats to coral reefs are water pollution (from sewage and agricultural
runoff), dredging off the coast, careless collecting of coral specimens, and
sedimentation (when silt or sand from construction or mining projects muddies
the waters of a reef and kills coral, which needs light to live).
Threats to Coral Reefs
The conditions required for the growth of reef-building corals gives us important
clues about possible threats to these ecosystems and how we can protect them.
Agricultural fertilizers
Urban storm water runoff
Sewage discharges
Industrial wastes
Nutrients encourage
growth of algae, which
increases turbidity
Removal of natural
Shipping and port activities
Sediments increase
turbidity and smother
Corals under stress
Rees contract; fewer
Kleeman et al “Global Explorations Stage 44” Heinemann: Melbourne p237
The Great Barrier Reef
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the largest single collection of coral
reefs in the world. It was added to the World Heritage List in October
1981. The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) includes :• 2904 coral reefs
• 600 continental islands
• 300 coral cays
Aboriginal people have lived along the GBR for 40,000 years. 40 tribal
groups lived along the coast of the GBR. The reef provided
subsistence for their lives, as well as playing a major role in their
cultural and spiritual life. Traditional cultural practices included
hunting sea turtles, dugong, reef fish and shellfish.
Today, the GBR is a popular tourist destination and thus the centre of
a large number of hotels, resorts, tourist operators and tourism. This
development and growth is placing new demands on the resources of
the reef.
Kleeman et al “Global Explorations Stage 44” Heinemann: Melbourne p242-5
Write your own Book
Can you write a children’s book?
Can you tell a story that inspires children to care about the Great
Barrier Reef?
Generations of people have used story to teach morals. Select an
animal that lives in the Coral Reef environment. Tell their story in a
short and amusing manner.
It is a book for 6 – 8 year olds. So keep your language
simple. Each page of your book should include a
picture that is related to the story, and only a few
sentences of writing. Aim to have between 10 – 14
pages in your book.

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