Underwater Architects
Friday, December 11, 2009 | Author: eventer79
Friday Fun Fact!

Yup, I let Darwin choose your fun fact topic for this week: the largest living structures on the planet -- corals. What you see as a coral reef is actually a skeleton of calcium carbonate which is built by millions of tiny polyps. Polyps vary in shape, size, and colour (example at right), but each is an individual animal, working with its neighbours to build the rock hard foundations on which they sit.

No doubt you have heard about the vanishing coral reefs of the world, thanks to pollution, warming oceans, and direct destruction. Fact is 70% could be gone by 2050, only 40 short years from now. "Oh well," many think, "it's not like I need a coral reef to get through my life."

You might.

Reefs have provided treatments for cancer, HIV, cardiovascular disease and uclers. The calcium carbonate coral skeletons have been used for bone grafts. Boy, when you need it, I'll bet you'll be thinking coral reefs are THE most important thing in the world.

In addition, even though reefs only cover about 1% of the planet's surface, they provide a home for over 25% of marine fish species. And food and livelihoods for 500 million people. Let me say that again -- 500 MILLION PEOPLE. $375 billion (yes, BILLION) of goods and services EACH YEAR exist thanks to coral reefs.

So, Mr. Darwin, your mighty little architects are indeed not to be lightly dismissed. The industrious polypus has gifts to offer each of us, upon which our lives might one day depend.

To learn about how you can help coral reefs every day, click here.

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On December 11, 2009 at 2:52 PM , Frizzle said...

Wow, those Cnidarians sure are important little buggers, aren't they? (*raises hand* Zoology nerd alert!)

On December 11, 2009 at 3:43 PM , eventer79 said...

Sweet, you have just won the Nerdiest Comment Ever award! Or should I say Cnerdiest?