Tropical Reefs: An Overview

Tropical reefs are typically what you expect a member of the public to describe when you mention coral reefs. Colourful, with a large abundance of species, from invertebrates and small fish all the way up to apex predators such as groupers and reef sharks. It is this level of diversity that gives coral reefs their allure to the public – and it is what we could lose if reefs continue to be damaged, either by direct human intervention (dredging, illegal coral trade, marine pollution) or indirect (global warming, bleaching, eutrophication)

 

Blacktip reef Sharks (Carcharhinus melanopterus), Wikimedia Commons

Cold Water Reefs – An Overview

Cold water, more commonly known as deep-water corals, are found in almost every ocean on the planet. The major species of which, Lophelia pertusa, is a good marker for the distribution of said cold-water reefs. Whilst CW reefs don’t have the same amount of species as their tropical counterparts, they also provide habitat to a number of fish, invertebrate and crustacean organisms. As seen in the map below, using¬†L. pertusa as a marker, cold water reefs are found mostly in the North East Atlantic, with a large number of them around the UK and Scandinavia.

Global distribution of Lophelia pertusa (Wikimedia Commons)

A Brief Overview of the Coral Reef

As marine scientists, we all know just how impressive and yet fragile the Earth’s coral reefs are, both cold-water and tropical. ¬†Within this blog, I’m going to cover, briefly, the ecosystem of cold water reefs, then tropical reef flora and fauna in detail.

 

Great Barrier Reef from Satellite view, Wikimedia Commons