Thursday, February 18, 2010

Coral reef growth - Interesting facts

Coral reefs growth depends on a number of environmental factors, and the two most important environmental factors include sunlight, and enough space to expand. What this means is that coral reefs grow very fast in some periods, while in other periods they can even "turn their growth off". Coral reefs can therefore recognize the suitable environmental conditions, and can grow extensively in clear water without muddy ingredients where sunlight penetrates deep into the water column.

The recent scientific studies have showed that corals of the Great Barrier Reef grew very rapidly between about 8000 and 5000 years ago, but not much since that period.

Scientists also believe that sea level rise can influence the growth of coral reefs because as the sea levels rise it can provide fair share of vertical space for coral reef expansion.

According to science the coral reefs have grown rapidly to increase in sea level and have reached the end of their natural life under present sea level conditions, so it is very likely that once sea levels rise coral reefs will start their growth once again.

Under the current conditions the coral reefs cannot continue to grow up because the sea level is pretty much stable and further seawards growth is likely limited by the muddy water conditions around the Great Barrier Reef that restrict sunlight penetration.

Great Barrier Reef - Satellite image

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system that has more than 2,900 individual reefs, and it can be even seen from outer space. The CRC Reef Research Centre estimates the age of the present, living reef structure at 6,000 to 8,000 years old.

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