Coral sand

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Coral sand from a beach on Aruba CoralSandAruba.jpg
Coral sand from a beach on Aruba

Coral sand is a collection of sand of particles originating in tropical and sub-tropical marine environments from bioerosion of limestone skeletal material of marine organisms. One example of this process is that of parrot fishes which bite off pieces of coral, digest the living tissue, and excrete the inorganic component as silt and sand. However, the term "coral" in coral sand is used loosely in this sense to mean limestone of recent biological origin; corals are not the dominant contributors of sand particles to most such deposits. Rather, remnant skeletal fragments of foraminifera, calcareous algae, molluscs, and crustaceans can predominate. Because it is composed of limestone, coral sand is acid-soluble.

Sand A granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles, from 0.063 to 2 mm diameter

Sand is a granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles. It is defined by size, being finer than gravel and coarser than silt. Sand can also refer to a textural class of soil or soil type; i.e., a soil containing more than 85 percent sand-sized particles by mass.

Bioerosion Erosion of hard substrates by living organisms

Bioerosion describes the breakdown of hard ocean substrates – and less often terrestrial substrates – by living organisms. Marine bioerosion can be caused by mollusks, polychaete worms, phoronids, sponges, crustaceans, echinoids, and fish; it can occur on coastlines, on coral reefs, and on ships; its mechanisms include biotic boring, drilling, rasping, and scraping. On dry land, bioerosion is typically performed by pioneer plants or plant-like organisms such as lichen, and mostly chemical or mechanical in nature.

Limestone Sedimentary rocks made of calcium carbonate

Limestone is a carbonate sedimentary rock that is often composed of the skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral, foraminifera, and molluscs. Its major materials are the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). A closely related rock is dolostone, which contains a high percentage of the mineral dolomite, CaMg(CO3)2. In fact, in old USGS publications, dolostone was referred to as magnesian limestone, a term now reserved for magnesium-deficient dolostones or magnesium-rich limestones.

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Environmental issues

Coral sand mining is a significant industry in some areas, and can have damaging environmental effects. Over 500,000 tons of coral sand are mined annually from Mauritius. Many Comoros beaches have been scarred by sand mining. Over 250 tons of shells and corals were exported from Tanzania in 1974. Exploitive collection has moved from the depleted areas off Tanzania and Kenya to the islands of Zanzibar and Mafia.

Sand mining is the extraction of sand, mainly through an open pit but sometimes mined from beaches and inland dunes or dredged from ocean and river beds. Sand is often used in manufacturing, for example as an abrasive or in concrete. It is also used on icy and snowy roads, usually mixed with salt, to lower the melting point temperature on the road surface. Sand can replace eroded coastline. Some uses require higher purity than others; for example sand used in concrete must be free of seashell fragments.

Mauritius Island nation in the Indian Ocean

Mauritius, officially the Republic of Mauritius, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 kilometres off the southeast coast of the African continent. The country includes the islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues, 560 kilometres east of Mauritius, and the outer islands of Agaléga and St. Brandon. The islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues form part of the Mascarene Islands, along with nearby Réunion, a French overseas department. The area of the country is 2,040 km2. The capital and largest city is Port Louis. The island is widely known as the only known home of the dodo, which, along with several other avian species, was made extinct by human activities relatively shortly after the island's settlement.

Comoros sovereign archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean

The Comoros, officially the Union of the Comoros, is an island country in the Indian Ocean located at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel off the eastern coast of Africa between northeastern Mozambique, the French region of Mayotte, and northwestern Madagascar. The capital and largest city in Comoros is Moroni. The religion of the majority of the population is Sunni Islam.

Such extensive mining can be very harmful to reef ecosystems and beaches.

Reef A bar of rock, sand, coral or similar material, lying beneath the surface of water

A reef is a bar of rock, sand, coral or similar material, lying beneath the surface of water. Many reefs result from abiotic processes, but the best known reefs are the coral reefs of tropical waters developed through biotic processes dominated by corals and coralline algae.

Ecosystem A community of living organisms together with the nonliving components of their environment

An ecosystem is a community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment, interacting as a system. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the system through photosynthesis and is incorporated into plant tissue. By feeding on plants and on one-another, animals play an important role in the movement of matter and energy through the system. They also influence the quantity of plant and microbial biomass present. By breaking down dead organic matter, decomposers release carbon back to the atmosphere and facilitate nutrient cycling by converting nutrients stored in dead biomass back to a form that can be readily used by plants and other microbes.

In an effort to prevent damage from reef sand mining, the Convention on international trade in endangered species urged parties to the convention to work for the conservation and sustainable use of the coral reef ecosystems. [1]

See also

Notes

  1. "Trade in stony corals". Convention on international trade in endangered species. Retrieved 31 August 2017.

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Cay small island formed on the surface of a coral reef

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Live rock

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Blast fishing

Blast fishing or dynamite fishing is the practice of using explosives to stun or kill schools of fish for easy collection. This often illegal practice can be extremely destructive to the surrounding ecosystem, as the explosion often destroys the underlying habitat that supports the fish. The frequently improvised nature of the explosives used means danger for the fishermen as well, with accidents and injuries.

Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System A marine region from Isla Contoy at the tip of the Yucat√°n Peninsula down to Belize, Guatemala and the Bay Islands of Honduras

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Fire coral genus of cnidarians

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Great Santa Cruz Island island in Philippines

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Coral reef protection Modifying human activities to reduce impact on coral reefs.

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Environmental issues with coral reefs

Human impact on coral reefs is significant. Coral reefs are dying around the world. Damaging activities include coral mining, pollution, overfishing, blast fishing, the digging of canals and access into islands and bays. Other dangers include disease, destructive fishing practices and warming oceans. Factors that affect coral reefs include the ocean's role as a carbon dioxide sink, atmospheric changes, ultraviolet light, ocean acidification, viruses, impacts of dust storms carrying agents to far-flung reefs, pollutants, algal blooms and others. Reefs are threatened well beyond coastal areas. Climate change, such as warming temperatures, causes coral bleaching, which if severe kills the coral.

Marine habitats A habitat that supports marine life

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Aquaculture of coral cultivation of corals for commercial purposes or coral reef restoration

Coral aquaculture, also known as coral farming or coral gardening, is the cultivation of corals for commercial purposes or coral reef restoration. Aquaculture is showing promise as a tool for restoring coral reefs, which are dying off around the world. The process protects young corals while they are most at risk of dying. Small corals are propagated in nurseries then replanted on the reef.

Coral poaching

Coral poaching is the confiscation of highly valued coral species from protected areas for sale as many types of jewellery that could be sold of upwards to $1,800 per gram. The illegal removal of coral is one of the most major environmental issues in many counties of Eastern Asia that destroys valuable ecosystems that harbors marine life. The resulting effect of harvesting coral colonies causes a significant financial loss to the surrounding economies and the destruction of environments.

Aquarium fishery

Aquarium fishery is the process of fishing wild fish for sale to private and public aquariums.