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Coral Reefs 101

Coral reefs are one of the most ecologically important organisms in the world - but they're dying at an alarming rate. Find out more about these amazing ecosystems and what you can do to save them!

What are Coral Reefs?

Coral reefs may look like stone but they are actually made up of tiny clear organisms called coral polyps and their skeletons. They develop in shallow, warm water, usually near land, and mostly in the tropics - between 70 and 85 degrees fahrenheit (21 - 30 celsius). They are home to one-third of all marine fish species and thousands of other species. Reefs provide homes to fish, support endangered and threatened species, and are safe havens to marine mammals and turtles. Without coral reefs to call home, these animals could all die.

Threats to the Reef

More than half the world's coral reefs are threatened by humans, either through coastal development, over-fishing, and/or marine pollution. One of the greatest threats is elevated seawater temperatures, which result in "reef bleaching." Reef bleaching occurs when water temperatures increase (due to global warming), which causes algae - the major food source of coral polyps - to die. If there are no algae, there's no coral and if there is no coral, thousands of marine species could become extinct.

Types of Coral Reefs

  • Fringing reefs: Reefs that form along a coastline and grow on the continental shelf in shallow water.
  • Barrier reefs: Reefs that grow parallel to shorelines but farther out than fringing reefs. They are usually separated from the land by a deep lagoon.
  • Coral Atolls: Rings of coral that grow on top of sunken volcanoes in the ocean. They start off as fringe reefs surrounding a volcanic island and then - once the volcano sinks - only the reef remains.

What You Can Do to Save the Reef

  • Encourage your 'rents not to use chemically enhanced pesticides or fertilizers. They leach into the groundwater and ultimately end up damaging coral reefs.
  • Support reef friendly businesses. Ask how reef-friendly your tour company is if you go diving on your next vacation.
  • Tell your peeps how important the reef is so that they can help support the cause.
  • Recycle. Manufacturing plastic, and metal from scratch can lead to global warming so help out by recycling your trash.
  • Before buying tropical fish, ask if they were ecologically harvested. Some fish are caught in a manner that damages the reef.
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What's the Reef in Finding Nemo?

  • The Walt Disney Reef.
  • The Great Barrier Reef.
  • The Mid Atlantic Reef.
  • The Florida Reef.

Random In The Forums

Nimsajeay posted in Debating:
"Cupcakesss123" wrote:I vote for Hilary Clinton I don't want trump  OR, you could go for Bernie. :D #feelthebern 
reply 35 minutes
Myshkin posted in Debating:
"AlphaT" wrote:I didn't think your opening statement would be 300 cubits long.  I hope you don't mess this up. God be with you.
reply about 2 hours
Unrung posted in Debating:
"AlphaT" wrote:I didn't think your opening statement would be 300 cubits long.  That made me laugh pretty hard. Originally it was going to be longer... but I went with the reader's digest version. :D
reply about 2 hours
AlphaT posted in Debating:
I didn't think your opening statement would be 300 cubits long. 
reply about 2 hours
Unrung posted in Debating:
In this debate, AlphaT and myself will be discussing the story of Noah’s flood. I contend that there is sufficient geological and historical evidence that supports the historicity of a global flood, and will be defending this position. As a heads up, this will be long. I’d like to open with a brief summary of story of the flood, for those who are unfamiliar with it. Recorded in the book of Genesis, the story begins by describing the state of humanity. According to the author, mankind had become so corrupt, [6:5] that God was grieved in His heart. [6:6] Because of the wickedness of man, God chose to ‘purge’ the earth through a worldwide flood, and start anew. He chose Noah, who we are told found favor in His eyes, [6:8] to build an ark with the aid of his sons; on which, God would preserve two of every living creature, as well as Noah and his immediate family. [6:13-14] Assuming such a catastrophic event actually took place, there should be evidence outside of the account found in Genesis to affirm that it did. The first piece of evidence I will be presenting, is the plethora of similar flood accounts that are found in different cultures throughout the world, which have been recorded entirely independent of the account as given by Moses. The argument is simple: if the flood really happened, and all the nations of people are descendants of Noah, then it’s plausible that as the people spread out, they carried with them a remembrance of the flood. Fine details may be lost as the story becomes distorted with time, but the overall message should remain similar to the original. And this is what we find. In a study conducted by Dr. John Morris, over 200 different accounts of the flood from different people groups were examined. The similarities found between these stories were incredible. [1]  Is there a favored family? 88% [2]  Were they forewarned? 66% [3]  Is flood due to wickedness of man? 66% [4]  Is catastrophe only a flood? 95% [5]  Was flood global? 95% [6]  Is survival due to a boat? 70% [7]  Were animals also saved? 67% [8]  Did animals play any part? 73% [9]  Did survivors land on a mountain? 57% [10] Was the geography local? 82% [11]  Were birds sent out? 35% [12]  Was the rainbow mentioned? 7% [13]  Did survivors offer a sacrifice? 13% [14]  Were specifically eight persons saved? 9% Putting the similarities all back together, the story would read something like this: Once there was a worldwide flood, sent by God to judge the wickedness of man. But there was one righteous family which was forewarned of the coming flood. They built a boat on which they survived the flood along with the animals. As the flood ended, their boat landed on a high mountain from which they descended and repopulated the whole earth. If the flood never happened, it’s a very odd coincidence that people groups from all around the world should have some legend of such a flood. My friend will have to provide a decent alternative explanation to account for this, if he doesn’t believe it’s a result of Noah’s descendants passing down the story of the flood. Next we’re going to examine the geological evidence for the flood. We’re going to start by looking at Mount St. Helens, a volcano in Washington State. On May 18, 1980, the volcano erupted, causing massive changes in the surrounding terrain. What’s significant about this is that, “the events associated with the volcano’s explosion [were] accomplished in seconds, hours, or just a few days, and this is geologic work that normally would be interpreted as having taken hundreds or even millions of years,” quoting Dr. Ken Ham. Of note is a canyon that was formed due to the eruption, dubbed the “Little Grand Canyon.” This is vitally important to understand, as it disproves the notion that such geological formations require hundreds, thousands, or millions of years to form. Such dates of millions of years have been assigned to rock layers in the Grand Canyon, by means of radiometric dating. (Lest I diverge from the topic of Noah’s flood, I’ll keep this short.) These dating methods have been proven to be flawed. Rock which was formed in 1986 from a lava dome at Mount St. Helens volcano was dated by the potassium argon method as 0.35 +/- 0.05 million years old. As we know, however, this is impossible, as the rock was formed in 1986. So either the rock traveled through time, or the dating method is inaccurate. This is one of numerous examples I can provide that points out the flaw in measuring radioactive decay in rocks. The point I’ve made on radiometric dating ties into the next piece of evidence we’re going to look at, which is the fossil record. I’d like to point your attention to a mountain in the Alps, called the Matterhorn. Dr. John Morris has this to say: “Sedimentary rocks near a mountain’s summit are supposed to be the youngest (i.e., they contain fossils thought to be more recently evolved) and should overlie lower strata that should be older, all things being equal. Yet on the Matterhorn, the reverse is true. Rocks dated as Cenozoic (containing fossils thought to be some 40 million years old) underlie rocks dated as Mesozoic (thought to be 200 million years old) according to evolutionary uniformitarianism. If they really were deposited on the mountain in that order, then the whole system is wrong—it’s literally flipped on its head. Creationists of the day insisted that the great Flood was not constrained to deposit things in an evolutionary order, and the observed order was only due to the dynamics of Flood waves.” This is a tremendous piece of evidence, for multiple reasons. Number one, it furthers the point I’ve made that rocks cannot be radiometrically dated with any accuracy. Second, it deals a large blow to the evolutionist, because the appearance of complex life forms in the fossil record here is completely out of line with the supposed history of evolution. For this reason, I contend that the fossil layers were not deposited over millions of years, as Mount Matterhorn testifies against such a notion. Rather, I would suggest to you, that the evidence we see here points to a catastrophic event, such as a flood of massive proportions. And this is just one of many examples of geological evidence that supports a global flood. I’ll go over a few more. We find fossils of sea creatures in rock layers that cover all the continents. For example, most of the rock layers in the walls of Grand Canyon (more than a mile above sea level) contain marine fossils. Fossilized shellfish are even found in the Himalayas. I would contend that this is due to ocean waters having flooded over the continents. We find rock layers that can be traced all the way across continents—even between continents—and physical features in those strata indicate they were deposited rapidly. For example, the Tapeats Sandstone and Redwall Limestone of Grand Canyon can be traced across the entire United States, up into Canada, and even across the Atlantic Ocean to England. The chalk beds of England (the white cliffs of Dover) can be traced across Europe into the Middle East and are also found in the Midwest of the United States and in Western Australia. Inclined (sloping) layers within the Coconino Sandstone of Grand Canyon are testimony to 10,000 cubic miles of sand being deposited by huge water currents within days. We find evidence of rapid erosion, or even of no erosion, between rock layers. Flat, knife-edge boundaries between rock layers indicate continuous deposition of one layer after another, with no time for erosion. For example, there is no evidence of any “missing” millions of years (of erosion) in the flat boundary between two well-known layers of Grand Canyon—the Coconino Sandstone and the Hermit Formation. Another impressive example of flat boundaries at Grand Canyon is the Redwall Limestone and the strata beneath it. As well, rocks do not normally bend; they break because they are hard and brittle. But in many places we find whole sequences of strata that were bent without fracturing, indicating that all the rock layers were rapidly deposited and folded while still wet and pliable before final hardening. For example, the Tapeats Sandstone in Grand Canyon is folded at a right angle (90°) without evidence of breaking. Yet this folding could only have occurred after the rest of the layers had been deposited, supposedly over “480 million years,” while the Tapeats Sandstone remained wet and pliable. [Source, AIG] I’ve now given several pieces of evidence that support the notion of a historical, global flood. I didn’t address certain contentions people often find with the flood, such as how did Noah and his family repopulate without inbreeding, how did they fit all the animals on the ark, etc, as this is already a very long opening statement and I’ve yet to see how my opponent responds. If these issues arise during the debate, however, I will address them. I close my opening statement with a passage from 2 Peter. 2 Peter, 3:5-7 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
reply about 3 hours