Coral Reef Degradation in the Indian Ocean Status reports and project presentations 1999
Corals as organisms and coral reefs as structures and ecosystems have fascinated scientists for centuries. Charles Darwin became well-known among natural scientists long before the publication of The Origin of Species, partly because of his studies of coral reefs and coral islands. Undoubtedly, this fascination for coral reefs is a direct result of the tremendous diversity of species, exemplified by the overwhelming number of fish of all shapes and colours, that inhabit the world’s richest marine ecosystem.
Fundamental to the existence of coral reefs is the symbiosis between the reef-building coral polyp and the algae, known as zooxanthellae, that resides within the tissue of the polyp. From an ecological point of view, coral reefs provide opportunities to observe interactions, such as predation, competition and synergism, between reef-dwelling organisms, which furthers our understanding of community ecology. The formation of structures like reefs and islands of coral sand also provide prime examples of interaction between biology and geology.