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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 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 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 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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean in the tropics of the Western Hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and south west, to the north by the Greater Antilles starting with Cuba, to the east by the Lesser Antilles, and to the south by the north coast of South America.
The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,300 kilometres (1,400 mi) over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres (133,000 sq mi). The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia. The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space and is the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms. This reef structure is composed of and built by billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps. It supports a wide diversity of life and was selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981. CNN labelled it one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The Queensland National Trust named it a state icon of Queensland.
A cay, also spelled caye or key, is a small, low-elevation, sandy island on the surface of a coral reef. Cays occur in tropical environments throughout the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
Buck Island Reef National Monument, or just Buck Island is a small, uninhabited, 176 acre island about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) north of the northeast coast of Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. The monument also includes 18,839 acres of submerged lands totaling 19,015 acres. It was first established as a protected area by the U.S. Government in 1948, with the intention of preserving “one of the finest marine gardens in the Caribbean Sea.” The U.S. National Monument was created in 1961 by John F. Kennedy and greatly expanded in 2001 by Bill Clinton, over the bitter opposition of local fishermen. Buck Island National Monument is one of few places in the Virgin Islands where brown pelicans and threatened least terns nest.
The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is a U.S. National Marine Sanctuary in the Florida Keys. It includes the Florida Reef, the only barrier coral reef in North America and the third-largest coral barrier reef in the world. It also has extensive mangrove forest and seagrass fields. The marine sanctuary includes a 2,800 square nautical mile (9,600 km²) area surrounding the Keys and reaching into the Atlantic Ocean, Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The sanctuary was established in 1990.
Live rock is rock from the ocean that has been introduced into a saltwater aquarium. Along with live sand, it confers to the closed marine system multiple benefits desired by the saltwater aquarium hobbyist. The name sometimes leads to misunderstandings, as the "live rock" itself is not actually alive, but rather is simply made from the aragonite skeletons of long dead corals, or other calcareous organisms, which in the ocean form the majority of coral reefs. When taken from the ocean it is usually encrusted with coralline algae and inhabited by a multitude of marine organisms. The many forms of micro and macroscopic marine life that live on and inside of the rock, which acts as an ideal habitat, give it the name "live rock".
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.
The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS), also popularly known as the Great Mayan Reef or Great Maya Reef, is a marine region that stretches over 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) from Isla Contoy at the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula down to Belize, Guatemala and the Bay Islands of Honduras. The reef system includes various protected areas and parks including the Belize Barrier Reef, Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, Hol Chan Marine Reserve (Belize), Sian Ka'an biosphere reserve, and the Cayos Cochinos Marine Park. Belize's coastline, comprising the Belize Barrier Reef, is home to approximately 80% of MBRS. The Belize Barrier Reef is the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere and the second largest barrier reef in the world. The Belize Barrier Reef and Belize's three offshore atolls, several hundred sand cays, mangrove forests, coastal lagoons and estuaries—collectively termed, the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System—has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO (1996).
Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Marine National Park Reserve is a former Marine protected area consisting of waters around Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs located at the south-eastern end of the Coral Sea Islands, an Australian territory in the Coral Sea and the north-western Tasman Sea. It was incorporated into the new Lord Howe Commonwealth Marine Reserve in December 2012. The two reefs also form a Ramsar site, having been listed as Ramsar Site 1223, on 21 October 2002, under the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international importance.
Fire corals (Millepora) are a genus of colonial marine organisms that exhibit physical characteristics similar to that of coral. The name coral is somewhat misleading, as fire corals are not true corals but are instead more closely related to Hydra and other hydrozoans, making them hydrocorals. They make up the only genus in the monotypic family Milleporidae.
A fringing reef is one of the four main types of coral reef recognized by most coral reef scientists. It is distinguished from the other main types in that it has either an entirely shallow backreef zone (lagoon) or none at all. If a fringing reef grows directly from the shoreline the reef flat extends right to the beach and there is no backreef. In other cases, fringing reefs may grow hundreds of yards from shore and contain extensive backreef areas with numerous seagrass meadows and patch reefs.
Great Santa Cruz Island is a small inhabited island in Zamboanga City in the southern region of the Philippines that is famous for its pink coralline sand. The island, located 4 kilometres (2.49 mi) south of downtown at the Santa Cruz Bank in the Basilan Strait, boasts the only pink sand beach in the Philippines. The color of the sand comes from the pulverized red organ pipe coral from eons of surf erosion mixed with the white sand.
Coral reef protection is the process of modifying human activities to avoid damage to healthy coral reefs and to help damaged reefs recover. The key strategies used in reef protection include defining measurable goals and introducing active management and community involvement to reduce stressors that damage reef health. One management technique is to create Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that directly limit human activities such as fishing.
Bunaken National Park is a marine park in the north of Sulawesi island, Indonesia. The park is located near the centre of the Coral Triangle, providing habitat to 390 species of coral as well as many fish, mollusc, reptile and marine mammal species. The Park is representative of Indonesian tropical water ecosystems, consisting of seagrass plain, coral reef, and coastal ecosystems.
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 are habitats that support marine life. Marine life depends in some way on the saltwater that is in the sea. A habitat is an ecological or environmental area inhabited by one or more living species. The marine environment supports many kinds of these habitats.
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 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 is the process of fishing wild fish for sale to private and public aquariums.