Corals are a particular class of organisms belonging to phylum coelentrata. These are soft- bodied radically symmetrical marine invertebrate which secretes a calcareous skeleton. The reef is formed by the cementing together of millions of these calcareous skeleton over along period of time. They coral reefs are of three types – fringe, barrier and atoll.
These coral reefs are shallow water tropical marine ecosystems marked by a high biomass production and rich floral and faunal diversity. For the growth of these corals certain environmental conditions are essential such as – temperature of water must not fall below 20°C; the depth of water should not exceed 180 feet, the availability of microscopic algae and should be selfish and free from sediment.
Therefore, the corals are best developed the tropical and subtropical regions where constant temperature, moving waves and currents maintain and abundant supply of clear, oxygenated water. The major reef formation in India are restricted to Gulf of Mannar Palk Bay, Gulf of Kutchch, Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshdeep islands are atoll in nature and others are fringing type. Besides these, patchy coral growth is present at the inter-tidal areas of the central west coast.
But very existences of these coral reefs are in danger due to several reasons. In coastal areas coral reefs are being destroyed by pollutants, siltation, mining for construction building and extraction for the cement industry. Scientists have pointed out that elevated sea temperatures possibly due to global warming is causing coral bleaching i.e. coral’s symbiotic algae is lost, which give coral its colour.
Without these algae the coral will eventually die. The destruction of coral reefs will destroy an entire ecosystem, as several other marine organisms are associated with them.
The 11th International Coral Reef Symposium which was held on July 7-11, 2008, in Ft. Landerdale, Florida. In this symposium more than 2500 attendees from the scientific, maraine management, and conservation communities participated. “Reefs for the future” was the theme of the symposium, highlighting one of the most important international treasures. Coral reefs symposium also raised apprehension on degradation of corals due to pollution, over fishing and climate change.
The goal of the symposium were also to provide a scientific basis for coral reef ecosystem management, to improve the understanding of reef condition, function and productivity, to grow the field of coral reef ecosystem science and encourage multidisciplinary research by facilitating the exchange of ideas.