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Term Coral reefs
Definition

Also known as coralline reefs, they are large, rock like formations resulting from the accumulation of calcium carbonate skeletons secreted by corals. They are benthic ecosystems that sustain the greatest diversity of species in the marine environment. Coral reefs not only provide shelter to a large number of marine organisms, but also supply the limestone and white sand that form beaches and protect the coastline from erosion.

The term coral is used to describe a group of tiny organisms belonging to the Cnidaria phylum (previously known as Cetenterata), which release hard calcareous skeletons and live in colonies taking the form of polyps. Coral reefs are one of the most colorful and complex biological communities in the world. Their skeletons give rise to colonies of various shapes and sizes.

To ensure the growth of coral reefs, water temperature must be between 20º and 28º C. Coral reefs are found in oceans, usually between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, because reef-building corals live in these waters. These corals are found mainly in the euphotic zone (less than 50 meters deep), where sunlight reaches the ground providing corals with enough light energy to grow.

In the Caribbean, there are more than sixty species of stony corals (class Anthozoa), whose skeletons are the building blocks of the complex coral structures known as reefs.

The country’s coastal areas have several marine platforms that form coral banks; the largest are in the northern coast of the country: the La Plata bank, with 2,060 km2, the Monte Cristi bank, with 892 km2, and the La Navidad bank, with 778 km2. The longest are those on the Saona island-Cumayasa – Soco route, measuring 180 Km in length.1

In the Dominican Republic, coral reefs, apart from providing the basis for the commercial fishing industry, are also used for the extraction of substances for the pharmaceutical industry, serve as protective barriers against beach erosion, provide habitat for many threatened species, and support local diving tourism businesses.

1Rathe, L. Plan de Acción Nacional de Adaptación al Cambio Climático en la Republica Dominicana; Proyecto de la Segunda Comunicación Nacional para el convenio Marco de las Naciones Unidas para el Cambio Climático (CMNUCC)/ (SEMARENA): Santo Domingo, DO, 2008, p.114.

 
 

Topic  Protected areasResources coastal / marineBiodiversity