27 April, 2020
7 Min Read
Part of: GS-III- Environment and Coral reefs (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)
The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem located in Australia, recently experienced its third major bleaching event in five years.
About coral reef
Coral reefs are among the world’s most diverse ecosystems, with more than 800 species of corals providing habitat and shelter for approximately 25% of global marine life. Coral reefs are also extremely beneficial to humans: They protect coastlines from tropical storms, provide food and income for 1 billion people, and generate $9.6 billion in tourism and recreation each year. But according to the United Nations Environment Programme, coral reefs are endangered and rapidly degrading due to overfishing, bottom trawling, warming temperatures and unsustainable coastal development.
Also, the abundance and diversity of fish serve as an important indicator of overall reef health
Growth conditions for Coral Reefs
Types of Coral Reefs
Coral Reefs are differentiated into three categories based on their shape, nature and mode of occurrence.
Coral Reefs in India
India has its coastline extending over 7500 kilometres. It is due to the subtropical climatic conditions, there are a very few coral reefs in India. The major coral reefs in India include the Palk Bay, the Gulf of Mannar, the Gulf of Kutch, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep Islands. Among all these coral reefs, the Lakshadweep reef is an example of atoll while the rest are all fringing reefs.
Situated in the south-east coast of India, Palk Bay is separated from the Gulf of Mannar by the Mandapam Peninsula and the Rameshwaram Island and is centered on 9 °17’N and 79° 15′. The one fringing reef in the Palk Bay is 25-30km long, and less than 200m wide lies in the east-west direction of the Pamban channel. This reef has a maximum depth of around 3 m.
The Gulf of Mannar
Situated around a chain of 21 islands, the Gulf of Mannar lies between Tuticorin and Rameswaram at a stretch of 140 km. These 21 islands fall between latitude 8°47′ N and 9° 15′ N and longitude 78° 12′ E and 79° 14’E and form a part of the Mannar Barrier Reef which is 140 km long and 25 km wide.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands fall between 6°-14° N lat and 91 °-94° E longitude. They are situated at the south-eastern part of the Bay of Bengal and consist of 350 islands, of which only 38 are inhabited. These islands extend southward from the Irrawaddy Delta of Burma to the Arakan Yoma Range. All the islands of the Andaman and Nicobar groups are almost fringing reefs.
The Gulf of Kutch
The Gulf of Kutch is situated in the northern part of Saurashtra Peninsula and is located between 22°15′-23°40′ N Latitude and 68°20′-70°40′ East Longitude having an area of about 7350 sq km. These reefs are of fringing type and are about 170 km long and 75 km wide at the mouth which narrows down at a longitude of 72° 20′. Due to the mud deposits on various coral reefs, these coral reefs are in a highly degraded condition.
Located between 8°N – 12°3’N latitude and 71 °E- 74°E longitude, the Lakshadweep Islands which lies scattered in the Arabian Sea are situated at about 225 km to 450 km from the Kerala Coast. The islands covering an area of 32 km2 consist of 36 tiny islands, 12 atolls, 3 reefs and 5 submerged banks, with lagoons occupying about 4200 km2.
Due to the warm humid climate of these islands, the temperature of the water varies between 28-31 °C with salinity ranging from 34% – 37%.
The United Nations has reported that:
According to a recent report, if stern measures to bring down the greenhouse gas emission levels are not adopted urgently, then Australia’s Great Barrier Reef might be in danger of coral bleaching as frequently as every two years by 2034. Large scale coral bleaching in 2016 destroyed thousands of square kilometres of the Great Barrier Reef.
Hawaii became the first U.S. state to put curbs on the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, which can cause coral bleaching.
What is Coral Bleaching?
Causes of Coral Bleaching?
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