Coral characteristics

  • Shallow water, reef-building corals have a symbiotic relationship with photosynthetic algae called zooxanthellae, which live in their tissues.

( The coral provides a protected environment and the compounds zooxanthellae need for photosynthesis. In return, the algae produce carbohydrates that the coral uses for food, as well as oxygen. The algae also help the coral remove waste. Since both partners benefit from association, this type of symbiosis is called mutualism.

Deep-sea corals live in much deeper or colder oceanic waters and lack zooxanthellae. Unlike their shallow water relatives, which rely heavily on photosynthesis to produce food, deep sea corals take in plankton and organic matter for much of their energy needs.)

  • Stable climatic conditions: Corals are highly susceptible to quick changes. They grow in regions where climate is significantly stable for a long period of time.
  • Perpetually warm waters: Corals thrive in tropical waters [30°N and 30°S latitudes, The temperature of water is around 20°C] where diurnal and annual temperature ranges are very narrow.
  • Clear salt water: Clear salt water is suitable for coral growth, while both fresh water and highly saline water are harmful.
  • Abundant Plankton: Adequate supply of oxygen and microscopic marine food, called plankton [phytoplankton], is essential for growth. As the plankton is more abundant on the seaward side, corals grow rapidly on the seaward side.
  • Little or no pollution: Corals are highly fragile and are vulnerable to climate change and pollution and even a minute increase in marine pollution can be catastrophic.