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Coral Comeback: Rainforests of the Sea

4 minutes

(Describer) Under a round logo of a wave, title: Ocean Today.

(Describer) Underwater...

(female narrator) There's an ocean creature that is part animal, part plant, and part stone.

(Describer) Fish swim around a coral reef.

They can be as small as two millimeters wide, but enough of them can get together to be seen from space. They're corals-- the tiny creatures that make up huge structures called coral reefs. And although they're small, they're one of the most important animals in the whole ocean ecosystem.

(Describer) The reef has many different colors and shapes.

To understand why, let's look at coral reefs. Coral reefs are ancient. They've been in the ocean for almost 500 million years, and some reefs started growing 50 million years ago. These incredible structures cover less than one-tenth of one percent of the ocean floor. And coral reefs, as most think of them, are found mostly in shallow, tropical areas around the world. That limited area is some of the most crucial habitat in the ocean. Reefs support countless fish, as well as sponges, octopi, sea slugs, crabs, eels, turtles, and creatures too numerous to name.

(Describer) A starfish lies on an outcrop.

It's thought up to 25% of marine creatures rely on reefs for their survival. How?

(Describer) Doctor C. Mark Eakin:

(man) Coral reefs form the basis for the food chain of organisms living around that reef and on that reef, much like the trees and the plants in a forest. They also provide the structure. Think about how a tall tree provides places for birds to grow their nests. Corals are doing the same job. In their holes, fish can swim in and out. Lobsters live underneath corals. Eels will live inside these holes. They're spectacular, diverse, structural communities.

(narrator) Sea creatures aren't the only ones who need reefs. So do people.

(Describer) Jennifer Koss:

(woman) Why should you care about coral reefs? They're a huge benefit to the global economy, from those living by them to those in the middle of the country who never see them. Fish that you eat may have spent time on a coral reef. In fact, 25% of fish we eat spend some of their life on a coral reef.

(Describer) Dozens of small fish swim in shallow water.

(narrator) Tourists come by the millions to snorkel and dive, creating jobs for tour operators, hotel workers, and many others.

(Describer) A boy dives.

(Koss) If you visit a coral reef, you want them to be there if you dive or fish in that area. If you live alongside a reef, they protect your coastline, community, and livelihood from big storm events like hurricanes, typhoons, and tsunamis.

(Describer) Heavy clouds drift around a rock.

(narrator) But the whole reef system is in incredible danger.

(Describer) Many fish with yellow tails swim away.

It all depends on the fragile corals. So let's unlock the mystery of how they can be animal, vegetable, and mineral all at once and how that might affect their survival.

(Describer) Titles: Narrator: Lori Berman. Ocean Today has been brought to you by the Smithsonian Institute in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Amospheric Administration. Accessibility provided by the US Department of Education.

Accessibility provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

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Coral reefs are some of the most precious habitats in the ocean, which has earned them the nickname "rainforests of the sea." They're a complicated ecosystem where thousands of species are supported by some of the smallest life-forms. Part of the "Coral Comeback" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 4 minutes

Coral Comeback
Episode 1
2 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Coral Comeback
Episode 2
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Coral Comeback
Episode 3
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Coral Comeback
Episode 4
5 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Coral Comeback
Episode 5
6 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Coral Comeback
Episode 6
6 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Coral Comeback
Episode 7
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Coral Comeback
Episode 8
3 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Coral Comeback
Episode 9
3 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12