Marvelous colar reefs: oxygen production, mass spawning, and bleaching

If you think that trees will restore the Earth with the oxygen that they produce, you are wrong — the systems which truly help to keep the balance and generate a bit less than 90% of oxygen are coral reefs.

What do you know about these wonderful and colorful systems? They are nice to look at and they are pretty sharp to stop at. That’s all you know about them for now, but we are going to explain to you the importance of these systems for all the creatures of our Planet.

The symbiosis of corals and algae

The corals are polyps that can be soft or solid. The solid ones get the calcium from seawater to create the carcass and live peacefully in the ecosystems of the reef. One reef can consist of millions of polyps of different kinds.

Bright colors of the soft ones are used to camouflage from the danger to be eaten by turtles and fishes. Corals are most likely to have friends — algae.

Image: “Blue Planet II”

The most important algae for corals are zooxanthellae, which photosynthesize and live in coral tissue. Zooxanthellae is responsible for the beautiful colors of the corals as long as the polyps are healthy and happy. Corals feed the algae with compounds and protect them from danger, in return, the algae produce oxygen and help the coral to remove wastes.

Danger of bleaching

When the corals feel stressed they can expel their algal cells which can cause bleaching. Being without color and algal cells, corals reefs die. When coral reefs die they do not produce oxygen, which is likely to reduce oxy production of the whole reef.

Image: “The Guardian”

The factors which cause bleaching are simple and well-known: global warming and plastic pollution of the oceans. Rising temperature level is dangerous both to corals reefs and other photosynthesizing cells.

Now, there are lots of coral reefs that are dying of bleaching. But there is something that can prevent their extinction.

Mass coral spawning

It only happens once a year: mass coral spawning. Coral polyps are simultaneously released eggs and sperm in the water. By expelling the eggs and sperm at the same time the corals increase chances of fertilization.

Image: “The Conversation”

The event happens only after the full moon, the factors like tide and day length influence it as well. The eggs and sperm that were not fertilized can be eaten by marine creatures, which is also helping to sustain the ecosystem maintenance.




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