Coral Reefs are home to around 25% of all marine life on the planet, yet the total area of the world’s coral reefs amounts to less than one quarter of 1% of the entire marine environment. Some 2 million species of marine life depend on coral reefs, and these reefs form the nurseries for about a quarter of the ocean’s fish. (Source: Word Wildlife Fund)
The importance of coral reefs to the marine environment is often taken for granted. They are a hub of activity for marine life and also provide protection for many species of fish and crustaceans.
Australia is fortunate to boast the largest coral reef system in the world. It is called the Great Barrier Reef and stretches for over 2,300 kilometres off the Queensland coast. The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from space and is the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms (Source: Wikipedia.org)
Here in Western Australia, the Ningaloo Reef is regarded as Australia’s largest fringing coral reef and lies just metres from the shore in many places. Located in Coral Bay, there is an amazing coral colony which is approximately seven metres in diameter and three metres high. This colony is known as ‘Ayers Rock’ and is thought to be several hundred years old. (Source: The Marine Life of Ningaloo Marine Park & Coral Bay)
Coral World International specialises in the growth and cultivation of many species of coral. Our ecologically friendly, tropical displays are recognised as some of the most beautiful in the world. With more than thirty years of experience, Coral World has successfully cultivated and maintained many coral exhibits around the world and has earnt an incredible reputation, which is unmatched by anyone else in this field.
At AQWA you can see one of the world’s largest living coral reef exhibits in the tranquil surrounds of our Underwater Viewing Gallery. Here you will discover a thriving coral reef with spectacular colours and abundant fish which are local to Rottnest Island.
What are corals?
Corals are really small, jellyfish-like animals called polyps. Living inside coral polyps are tiny plants that use sunlight to make energy. With this energy, coral polyps use the minerals in sea water to create structures that are constantly growing and competing for space.
The coral reefs that we see are in fact colonies consisting of hundreds of thousands of individual coral organisms. Each member of the colony is called a polyp and is equipped with poisonous hunting tentacles which pass captured prey into a mouth. The rate of growth of a coral colony is a few centimetres a year. A colony around the size of ten metres can be hundreds of years old. When a coral colony dies, the limestone skeleton remains and becomes the bed for the growth of new coral colonies. Over thousands of years, corals have grown and built colonies in this way, and upon their death the chalky skeleton remains, forming the base for the proliferation of the new generations.