Southeast Asian coral reefs
Southeast Asian coral reefs have the highest levels of biodiversity for the world's marine ecosystems. They serve many functions, such as forming the of livelihood for subsistence fishermen and even function as jewelry and construction materials. Coral reefs are developed by the carbonate-based skeletons of a variety of animals and algae. Slowly and overtime, the reefs build up to the surface in oceans. Coral reefs are found in shallow, warm salt water. The sunlight filters through clear water and allows microscopic organisms to live and reproduce. The Indian Ocean holds 60% of the world's coastal reefs, 25% are in the Pacific and 15% are in the western Atlantic. There are coral reefs in the Persian Gulf, Madagascar, the Philippines, Hawaiian Islands and off Southeast Asia. Coral reefs have been preserved and identified in rocks over 400 million years old. Coral reefs are actually composed of tiny, fragile animals known as coral polyps. Coral reefs are significantly important because of the biodiversity. Although the number of fish are decreasing, the remaining coral reefs contain more unique sea creatures. The variety of species living on a coral reef is greater than anywhere else in the world. An estimation of 70-90% of fish caught are dependent on coral reefs in Southeast Asia and reefs support over 25% of all known marine species. However, those sensitive coral reefs are facing detrimental effects on them due to variety of factors: overfishing, sedimentation and pollution, bleaching, and even tourist-related damage.