Coral reefs - The Vanishing Tribe That Made Mountains Out of Thin Water !!!
Plants or animals?
Ancient people took coral reefs for plants seeing the sedentary nature and the “flowers” all around. One who pays a visit to coral reefs in a Carl Segan style during the night alone can understand the real “activities” of these animals, ancient people cannot be blamed for mistaking them for plants. To observe them in a sunlit reef a lavish visual feast. It is time man has to take the survival of these beauties seriously and work so that these reefs remain where they are and grow to greater breadth for the good of the whole world.
Polyps not flowers!
As the water is calm in the dark hours of night approach the reef with all the gears of a deep sea swimmer wait there patiently and slowly shine the diver’s light the sight will be unforgettable! Seeing the light within seconds swarm of zooplanktons caroming off one another like moths approach the “mountain” (colony of sea anemones which forms the coral reef) that is the time to watch the real animal in this being often considered a plant. The little “flowers” (polyps) spring up and get engaged in swallowing the zooplanktons which approaches the flowers are caught and sucked inside with panache.
A forest in the sea
These coral reefs cover the earth’s surface more than any other species of animals or even plants. They yield more living materials per hectare than any plants however carefully cultivated. A colony of coral reef is like a forest in the sea, it is rather a biosphere where numerous fish in-vertebrates flourish. Being the largest construction ever made by any animals (that of man included) coral reefs play vital role in rearing the production of sea food to the great service of nature as well as mankind.
Like its shape size and appearance these animals are peculiar it its mode of propagation also. Each animal does the function of both genders as they produce male and female genetic materials (sperms and eggs). The sperms are let free for their fate, some them may be fortunate enough to enter in the other polyps (as the eggs in the polyp of its origin generally matures in a different times male and female of the same polyp do not join together) and among them few join with eggs. The eggs after fertilization grow in to larvae called “planulae”
Survival of the fittest
These planulae swim just below the ocean surface, the number of these larvae is so huge that in many places they turn the color of the sea in to pink! Most of these planulae end up in predator’s mouth. The survival rate may be less than one out of a billion. The survivor establishes its colony. A few hours after the settlement a starlike skeleton begins to appear inside and beneath it , which functions as the cement to fix it with the bottom. Soon after settlement polyps appear and multiplication starts and the colony assumes the shape of a volcano.
As the colony grows upwards the polyps maintain their position on the surface of the skeleton by cementing over the tops of their old craters while building new ones above. Thus the internal skeleton of a coral head consisting of many layers of roofed- over cups resembles a ceramic honey-comb, a self-repairing break water (which can challenge any modern construction in quality) is thus formed without costing a penny to those who derive the benefit out of it. The benefit is this that without corals most of earth’s populated ring islands (coral atolls) just above the sea-level would have been washed away by the oceans that surround them.
Tropical forest and the forest of the sea
Of late the destruction of tropical forests have risen to alarming levels, this in turn increases the soil erosion, along with that the effluents from cities directly find its way in to the sea. These all cover the reef as a blanket and a film of sediment that the corals cannot remove themselves and the whole colony gets choked and perish. When corals die all the eco-system supported by it also die without any evidence of recovery.
Preserve them as our ancestral wealth
Man for the quest of his development has always been unkind to the environment, a time has come that nature has reached its breaking point and drastic action if not taken immediately can wipe out our entire development in to mere nothing. It is a question of now or never.