04 Dec When diving among the reefs of Bali, did you realize the reef is alive?
When you are diving on the beautiful reefs of Bali, did you realize that these reefs where formed 10,000 years ago and are unlike anything else on the planet?
So when you are busy taking pictures of the many species of fish, clams and many other animals and plants, take a moment to take a closer look at the reefs itself, the most colorful and diverse ecosystem in the world.
Most people think corals are plants, but they are actually animals related to the jellyfish and anemones. Reefs are formed because a group of tiny organisms, called coral polyps, die. These animals, which are attached to the ocean floor, leave behind their hard limestone skeleton. The next generation of polyps uses these skeletons, eventually resulting into these amazing shaped structures we now know amongst others as staghorn, elkhorn, brain, mushroom and pillar corals. All these different structures provide a valuable habitat for the fish and other animals that makes diving around Bali so interesting.
If corals are animals, then how do they feed?
Most coral reefs have a symbiotic relationship with tiny algae called zooxanthellae. These algae live within the coral polyps and need sunlight for photosynthesis. Photosynthesis means they use the sun’s energy and turn water and carbon dioxide into sugar for energy. That’s why you often find coral reefs in shallow water because the algae need sunlight. The energy they produce is transferred to the polyp, providing it with nourishment. The polyp then in return provides the algae with carbon dioxide and a home to live in. The corals do not just rely on the algae for food. At night the coral polyps come out of their skeletons, they stretch their long, stinging tentacles to catch tiny animals called zooplanktons that are floating by. Once the zooplankton is captured they are pulled into the polyps mouths where they are digested in their stomachs. That’s what one of the reasons why night diving is so spectacular.
The important role of the reef when it comes to the survival of our planet.
Reefs cover only 1 percent of the ocean floor, and if you have a healthy reef, you have a healthy ocean, which means a healthy world for all of us. Because not only are the coral reefs a direct support to the marine ecosystem, they also provides a few important benefits for mankind. When it comes to marine ecosystem, the reef is a home to thousands of species. All these different species either find food, shelter, mates or a place to reproduce within the reef. Large fish species use it as a nursery to keep the juvenile fish safe until they are big enough to go out in the deep blue. For mankind these nurseries are vital for the fishing industry and so are the bait fish that live among the reef, they are used to fish for tuna and other large fish.
Many other ways that coral reefs help humans is by protecting the shorelines from storm damage, caused by hurricanes, typhoons and tsunamis. The coral reef can be harvested to make medications to treat cancer, heart disease and other diseases. Water around the reefs is of better quality, because the reefs filter the water and help manage the carbon dioxide levels in our world. Last but no least, they are valuable for the tourism industry, which includes us divers.
Learn more about the reef and do your AWARE – Coral Reef Conservation course.
If you want to learn more about the reef and be able to recognize the different corals and the many fish that live among them, come dive with Joe’s Gone Diving and do your AWARE Coral Reef Conservation course. Today, because of human activity 60 percent of the world’s reefs are being threatened. By learning more about the reef you can help to protect the reef and with that the world’s population. Sign up and come explore the pretty reefs of Bali with us.