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Kids in the Hall of Biodiversity: Articles

Part of Hall of Biodiversity.

Why are coral reefs important to all life?

We have all probably heard a lot about the rainforests and how important it is to try to save them. But what we don't hear a lot about are coral reefs. Coral reefs are just as important to the world as rainforests. In fact, they are often called the rainforests of the sea.

Just as the rainforests are home to a million species of land plants and animals, coral reefs are home to nearly a million aquatic species, including sponges, shrimps, crabs, jellyfish, snails, oysters, clams, and of course, fish. Three thousand of these creatures may live together in one reef. The coral protects the animals from their predators, and provides them with food, shelter, and a place to have babies.

Coral reefs are also called the rainforests of the sea because just like rainforests, many materials found in them can be used for medicine. Medicines that could be used to treat cancer have been found in the coral. It can also be used to repair human bone. Many organisms found within the reef can also be used in medicine.

But the biggest similarity between rainforests and coral reefs is that, like rainforests, coral reefs are being destroyed. The main reason? Dirty water. Chemicals used in farming can be harmful to the coral. The chemicals can wash out into the sea when it rains. Also, sewage and waste is dumped into the sea. This creates an overgrowth of algae which can grow on the bottom of the reef and smother it.