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Threats to Coral Reefs By Jim Hyde James W Hyde BIOL 1040 Thesis Statement Nestled in tropical ocean waters coral reefs provide invaluable resources to both human and marine life Coral reefs are estimated to contain one-quarter of the undersea worlds diverse species while covering less than 02 of the ocean floor However coral reefs are in serious danger due to both natural and man-made causes Population growth and development has altered the coral reef environment Destructive fishing practices land-based sources of pollution such as agricultural runoff and excessive coastal development all have detrimental effects on delicate reefs Global warming due to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases may result in sea-level rise and higher ocean temperatures both of which have the potential to be destructive to coral reefs In Florida living animals whose skeletons make up the foundation of the multi-colored underwater reefs corals are a diverse and ecologically important member of the aquatic ecos ystem Florida boasts the only living coral reefs in the continental United States These ancient slow-growing structures are now imperiled by their own enormous popularity Boat anchors and groundings heavy use by divers and snorkelers and pollution all cause damage that is damaging to the reefs James W Hyde BIOL 1040 History Corals are made up of tiny cup-shaped animals called polyps which are similar to jellyfish They begin life in tropical waters as free-floating larvae but eventually settle on the ocean bottom and form large sedentary colonies A single polyp may eventually become as large as a saucer or stay as small as the head of a pin All polyps start off small and some single polyps become large Billions of polyps working together generation after generation create one of natures most spectacular and enduring wonders a coral reef A coral polyp is made up primarily of clear tentacles and a mouth It feeds by waving its tentacles through the surrounding water to attract tiny
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