A picturesque tour of corals of the Caribbean!

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Colorful coral reef.

Corals form a wonderful attraction for tourists and divers and lovers of marine life. May vacationers from all over the world love to dive enjoy the beauty of corals.

What Are Corals?

According to an article from traveltips.usatoday, written by Edward Thomas, “A common misconception is that corals are rocks, fossils or mineral deposits. They are, in fact, marine animals whose exoskeletons are attached to rocks and other solid, underwater formations, such as shipwrecks. A living coral reef is made up of colonies of tiny organisms that feed by straining plankton from the water. They also typically have a symbiotic relationship with certain strains of algae. Corals create shells made of calcium carbonate, and it is these shells that give a reef it’s stony appearance.

Caribbean Conditions

The Caribbean presents an ideal breeding ground for corals. These creatures thrive in warm waters, roughly 73 to 84 degrees, a temperature band that describes nearly the entire Caribbean all year around. They grow twice as fast when exposed to strong sunlight, making the Caribbean’s tropical latitude and clear waters a double blessing.

Caribbean Corals

Most Caribbean coral reefs are what are known as fringing reefs. These grow directly offshore with either a shallow lagoon or nothing behind them. For that reason, they can be seen as extensions of the shoreline, even if they are hundreds of yards from land. However, other important coral reefs are present in the Caribbean. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, stretching from the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico to the Bay Islands of Honduras, is the second-largest barrier reef system in the world. The Caribbean waters off Belize are home to three of the four true coral atolls in the Western Hemisphere, including the famous Great Blue Hole.

Corals as Attractions

Besides being colorful and sometimes elegant, coral reefs create a habitat for entire marine ecosystems. The coral reefs of main Caribbean islands and mainland communities have become the setting for a major tourist industry. Scuba divers from around the world travel to the Caribbean just to see the coral reefs and the diverse marine life they support, while other tourists are happy to see many of the same sights through snorkeling.

Preserving Corals

There are a handful of direct actions a traveler can take to preserve the coral reefs in the Caribbean. Go out of your way to avoid standing on or otherwise touching the reefs. Inquire with any dive or snorkel tour operator about how it anchors the ship. If the operator tosses the anchor over the side and onto the reef, then take your money to a more coral-friendly company. Do not buy coral “artworks” from galleries and shops, as these coral formations are often cut alive from reefs.

To read more on this article: http://traveltips.usatoday.com/caribbean-coral-reefs-9923.html

The beauty of coral, may be seen not only from is colorful display, but may also be admired through the various structure and texture.
Observe this beauty from some of the corals of the Caribbean.
Scientific Name:Acropora cervicornis
Order: Scleractinia
Category: Stony Corals
Size: 1 to 8 ft. (30 to 240 cm)
Depth: 1-160 ft. (0-50 m)
Distribution: Caribbean, Bahamas, Florida
Location: Bonaire
Location: Grand Cayman
Elkhorn Coral
Scientific Name:Acropora palmata
Order: Scleractinia
Category: Stony Corals
Size: Colony 3 to 12 ft. (1 to 4 m)
Depth: 1-55 ft. (0-17 m)
Distribution: Caribbean, Bahamas, Florida
Location: St John, USVI
Location: Grand Cayman
Location: St John, USVI
Clubtip Finger Coral
Scientific Name: Porites porites
Order: Scleractinia
Category: Stony Corals
Size: Branch 0.5 to 1.6 in. (1 to 3 cm)
Depth: 3-160 ft. (1-50 m)
Distribution: Caribbean, Bahamas, Florida

 

Location: Key Largo, Florida
Branched Finger Coral
Scientific Name: Porites furcata
Order: Scleractinia
Category: Stony Corals
Size: Branch 0.5 to 1.6 in. (1 to 3 cm)
Depth: 3-160 ft. (1-50 m)
Distribution: Caribbean, Bahamas, Florida

 

Location: Grand Cayman
Scientific Name: Porites divaricata
Order: Scleractinia
Category: Stony Corals
Size: Branch 0.5 to 1.6 in. (1 to 3 cm)
Depth: 3-160 ft. (1-50 m)
Distribution: Caribbean, Bahamas, Florida
Location: Turks and Caicos
Pillar Coral
Scientific Name:Dendrogyra cylindrus
Order: Scleractinia
Category: Stony Corals
Size: 4 to 10 ft. (1.2 to 3 m)
Depth: 4-65 ft. (1-20 m)
Distribution: Caribbean, Bahamas, Florida
Location: The Exumas, Bahamas
Location: Belize
Location: Roatan, Honduras
Location: Turks and Caicos
Location: Turks and Caicos
Diffuse Ivory Bush Coral
Scientific Name: Oculina diffusa
Order: Scleractinia
Category: Stony Corals
Size: Colony 1 to 12 in. (2.5 to 30 cm)
Depth: 3-75 ft. (1-23 m)
Distribution: Caribbean, Bahamas, Florida
Location: Key Largo, Florida
Location: Key Largo, Florida
Yellow Pencil Coral
Scientific Name:Madracis mirabilis
Order: Scleractinia
Category: Stony Corals
Size: 5 in. to 4 ft.
Depth: 3-200 ft. (1-60 m)
Distribution: Caribbean, Bahamas, Florida
Location: Turks and Caicos
Location: Turks and Caicos
Grooved Brain Coral
Scientific Name:Diploria labyrinthiformis
Order: Scleractinia
Category: Stony Corals
Size: 1 to 4 ft. (30 to 120 cm)
Depth: 3-130 ft. (1-40 m)
Distribution: Caribbean, Bahamas, Florida
Location: Turks and Caicos
Location: Aruba
Location: Turks and Caicos
Location: Turks and Caicos
Artichoke/Solitary Disk Coral
Scientific Name:Scolymia cubensis/wellsi
Order: Scleractinia
Category: Stony Corals
Size: 1 to 4 in. (2.5 to 10 cm)
Depth: 30-260 ft. (10-80 m)
Distribution: Caribbean, Bahamas, Florida

Note: There are no visual differences between Artichoke Coral and Solitary Disk Coral

Location: Nassau Bahamas
Location: Cozumel, Mexico.
Location: Nassau Bahamas
Location: Bonair
Location: Bonair
Location: Bonair

To read more about Caribbean reefs and to view more images of corals found in the Caribbean waters as documented by Reefguide.com

Visit: https://reefguide.org/carib/index26.html

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