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Coral

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About Me You may recognize us from the colorful reefs we form in tropical waters around the world, but did you know we are actually made of tiny organisms called polyps? Our polyps are soft-bodied, but secrete limestone skeletons for support. Our iconic reefs are formed when many, many polyps come together and build on one another. The result is a colony of polyps that actually act as one organism! We get our colorful hues from algae called zooxanthellae (polyps are actually see-through!). Polyps and zooxanthellae have a symbiotic relationship, where we get food from the algae in exchange for housing and protection in our hard structure. When we get stressed out by things like pollution or high temperatures, we kick the zooxanthellae out. This is called coral bleaching, and can actually kill us if it goes on for too long! Did You Know? Our hard calcium carbonate skeletons contain...
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Coral-killing chemical still appears in many sunscreen formulas

Oxybenzone
Coral reefs the world over are increasingly under threat. Scientists say rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification, and even a chemical commonly found in sunscreen are contributing to the decline in reef health. How are our reefs holding up? An abundance of sunshine draws vacationers to Cayman’s shores like moths to a flame, and to protect themselves from the sweltering Cayman sun. Many slather themselves with a product that could contain a chemical proven deadly to corals – oxybenzone. “If it does have oxybenzone, then it is confirmed to have an impact on the coral reef creatures, and yeah, literally it does kill them at very very low levels,” said DOE Deputy Director Tim Austin. He said research published almost a decade ago first identified oxybenzone as a coral killer. “The awareness that has come up as a result of the scientific research has sunk in to the industry, a lot of...
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The Value of Coral Reefs

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Coral reefs are valuable because they protect tropical shorelines from damage by storm waves. A recent World Bank study suggests that each square meter of coral reef in the Caribbean protects $ 47,000 in property.Coral reefs provide hundreds of thousands of people with income and food from fishing. A coral reef in prime condition can produce over 2...
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