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Coral Reef



Coral reefs are existing for approx. 450 million years. Geologically proven (as represented in the fossil record), ancient coral reefs had a similar complexity as a nowaday's coral reefs.
There are the two most productive natural systems in the world: the tropical rain forests and the coral reefs. Both systems are currently at high risk as a result of excessive and negligent use, such as industrial production. Since coral reefs are increasing in economic value, they must be protected. This is not only the task of the government, but as well of every individual (e.g. divers or snorklers). Understanding and care will ensure their endangered survival.



Corals and how they work:

Coral reefs are the largest natural structures in the world. They are being formed as a result of an interesting relationship between coral animals (polyps) and microscopic algae (zooxanthellae): The polyp, resembling a small sea anemone, is able to feed itself using stinging cells that are on its tentacles with paralyse passing plankton. The plankton is digested. However, it only supplies a small portion of the nutritional needs of the polyp. The main nutrition comes from zooxanthellae. It converts sunlight, carbon dioxide and their own wastes into oxygen and carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are also used by the polyp to make calcium carbonate. This process is commonly known as calcification. Calcium carbonate eventually forms what is beeen recognised as coral reef. In Southern Sinai, there are about 140 species of coral found on reefs.



The Ecosystem of Coral Reef:

For thousands of animals and organisms, coral reefs provide food and shelter. They all co-exist in complex interconnected food chains.
Different behavioural patterns permit many organisms to share the same area, while all organisms mostly haave the same objectives: to occupy and protect a space, to feed and to reproduce themselfes. Organisms that are less successful in this, will in time desappear from the reef.
Coral reef ecosystems are in a constant change. Corals grow and therewith provide the framework for extension of the reef. In the meantime, reefs are being broken down by animals living in the reef or feeding on the structure (like sponges, bivalves, urchins, or fish). For the last 30 years, especially divers and snorkellers are bringing a lot of damage to the reefs by taking out parts of the reef, or by simply not taking care. Easily, when turning around or struggeling (beginners) a part of a reef may be hit by the feet or a leg and be broken. Boats anchoring are breaking out huge parts of coral reef. Recently, it this kind of damage has been reduced by law force, but still it happens in many places. If corals are damaged then the complex equilibrium of the reef will be permanently changed. It will last many thousands of years to recover what has been damaged. The result is loss of productivity and biodiversity. Both have serious economic consequences. In this sense it is our task to protect these natural recourses as well as possible.





Egyptian Environment Affairs Agency -
Department of Natural Protectorates





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