What is the Structure of a Coral Reef?
Coral reefs are sea mountains of minerals which calcium carbonate predominates, along with numerous other inorganic and organic forms of calcium. Calcium is a biological glue and an inorganic building block that is ubiquitous on the planet earth. In order to build a reef, the living coral polyps require specific climatic and ecological conditions. Indeed, coral reefs are most preponderant in warm waters of the ocean which have a range of temperature from 20 degrees C to 30 degrees C, approximately.
Without sunlight the living infrastructure of organisms on the reef that use photosynthesis for nutrition cannot survive. These photosynthetic organisms (zooanthellae-algae) are quite primitive, but efficient in forming a basic nutrient source for the food chain of the reef dwellers. Some marine organisms rely heavily on the photosynthesizing organisms. For example, coral reef sponges obtain the bulk of their nutrients from these organisms and some species of jellyfish harbor photosynthesizes in their tentacles.
Of the vast number of species of coral, two distinct, basic types are recognized. These are the reef-building stony corals and the more delicate soft corals that have an inner skeleton. Not all corals from aggregations into colonies and many soft corals live among the stony corals.
The most interesting aspect of coral is their different and versatile ability to reproduce. They can reproduce by budding in an asexual manner and many polyps can form with remaining connections to its forerunner. Once a year, the corals may spawn filling areas of the reef with massive amounts of eggs and sperm (the reefs are submerged in a cloud if sperm and eggs) which attract plankton eating fish and mammals.
Oceanographers refer to several distinct types of coral reef. The coral reefs in Okinawa are associated with dormant underwater volcanoes and they tend to grow outwards to maintain their submersion in the seas. Fringing reefs are found in the Caribbean and the Great Barrier Reef and related grow along coastal plains which are raised from the seabed. Reefs can grow with amazing variations in architecture that is shaped by the geological circumstances and climate of the ocean.
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Different Types of Coral Calcium
Coral Calcium Types – An Explanation
It is important to recognize that two broad, but distinct types of coral calcium, are used as health giving supplements by the Japanese and many people throughout the world.
The first type is fossilized coral calcium that has been deposited on the land mass, or washed up on the beaches. The second type is taken directly from the sea bed. The sea-bed coral calcium is the coral that has dropped from the reef or is processed by reef inhabitants. This type of “coral sand” has been washed to the ocean floor by wave actions. Marine coral calcium is closer in composition to the living forms of corals, because the marine microbes are still active and many minerals and organic elements are retained, in comparison to fossilized, land-based coral.
These are important differences in composition between fossilized (land-based) and marine (sea-bed) coral calcium. Marine coral calcium contains more magnesium, and the balance of calcium (24%) to magnesium (12%) content of this second type of marine coral is close to 2:1. This 2 to 1 ratio is the ideal ratio for calcium and magnesium intake in the human diet.
My research has led me to believe strongly that the natural, magnesium enriched, marine coral calcium is to be strongly preferred as a health giving supplement over land based (fossilized coral), which contains less than 1% magnesium. This superiority of the marine coral is due to its retained, ideal, ionic balance of calcium and magnesium in a 2:1 ratio, and the fact that for the fossilized type, a host of other nutrients were also washed out during weathering processes.