Location and Distribution of Coral Reefs

  • Most reefs are located between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, in the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, the Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf.
  • Corals are also found farther from the equator in places where warm currents flow out of the tropics, such as in Florida and southern Japan.
  • Worldwide, coral reefs cover an estimated 110,000 square miles (284,300 square kilometres).

Coral reefs are absent on the west coast of tropical continents because of:

  • Presence of Cold coastal currents:g. on the west coast of Americas (Peru cold current), west coast of Africa (Benguela cold current and Canary current), West coast of Australia ( west Australian cold current)
  • Coral reefs do not flourish in the cold currents due to the upwelling of the cold water from depths that cools the warm surface water (corals can’t survive in cold waters). The ideal temperature for corals is 20 degrees C.

global distribution of coral reefs


  • The Coral reefs in India are mainly restricted to
    • the Andaman and Nicobar Islands,
    • Gulf of Mannar,
    • Gulf of Kutch,
    • Palk Strait and
    • the Lakshadweep islands.

All of these reefs are Fringing reefs, except Lakshadweep which are Atolls. There are Patchy corals present along the inter-tidal areas of the central west coast like the intertidal regions of Ratnagiri, Gaveshani Bank etc.


Fig: Distribution of Coral Reefs in India