Although built upon a foundation of stony corals, reefs are home to a diverse range of other marine organisms. Some of the most productive ecosystems, coral reefs are attractive environments for a variety of organisms. Organisms commonly found among coral reefs include: fish, seabirds, algae, cnidarians, sponges, tunicates, crustaceans, mollusks, and echinoderms. These organisms along with many others comprise one of the most diverse environments in the world.

Sessile creatures such as sea anemones and sponges use the corals as an anchoring point. Furthermore, the many crevices within the corals provide shelter for smaller organisms avoiding predators or looking for a safe nesting site. Nearly every species found in a coral reef is prey to another species. This relationship is the basis for one of the world’s most complex food webs.

Out of all of the marine ecosystems, coral reefs are the most diverse. Despite comprising only .1% of the ocean floor, coral reefs are home to nearly 25% of all marine species. Also, of the 34 animal phyla, 32 are represented among the various species that inhabit the world’s reef systems. These numbers are a testament to the tremendous biodiversity found in a coral reef, and act as a potent reminder of the importance of coral reef conservation.

Sea Turtles (wikimedia commons)

Reef Shark (wikimedia commons)

Parrotfish (wikimedia commons)

Seahorse (wikimedia commons)

Starfish (wikimedia commons)

Clownfish (wikimedia commons)