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Part of Hall of Biodiversity.

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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.

Just as we need to preserve the rainforest, we also need to preserve the coral reefs. Without them, the millions of species living in them will not be able to survive.

WHAT IS A CORAL REEF?

A coral is a small marine animal that belongs to the anthozoa family. These tiny creatures usually live together in colonies. A coral will produce a cup-shaped skeleton around itself. It continues skeleton growth until it dies, whereupon new corals will produce skeletons on top of the old ones, creating new layers. Over time, this forms a coral reef.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP:

1. Don't throw your trash in or around the reefs.
2. When snorkeling, control your flippers and snorkels to make sure they don't touch the coral.
3. Don't stand or sit on the coral.
4. Don't feed or touch the fish.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON HOW YOU CAN HELP SAVE CORAL REEFS, CONTACT:

Planetary Coral Reef Foundation

Ever wonder where chocolate comes from?

How often do you snack on chocolate bars while watching TV? When was the last time that you bit into a huge piece of chocolate cake at a birthday party? What most of us don't know is that