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Where can coral reefs grow?

Arial view of reef

Aerial view of reef

Coral is very fussy about where it can live. When they look for a home they want:

  • Perfectly clean sea water. Silt from the land is a big no no.
  • Warm sea temperatures preferably in tropical waters. But they don’t like it too hot.
  • The sea must be shallow. Below 60 metres there is not enough light for the polyps’ zooxanthellae friends to produce food.
  • The seawater must have a very low level of nutrients. Fertiliser washed in from the land will encourage seaweed to take over.
  • Coral polyps don’t like the amount of salt in the seawater changing.
  • Any increase in ultraviolet radiation makes life very unpleasant for corals.

It’s surprising that an animal that is so fussy is as common as it is.

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