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Ali WestenhaverOctober 18, 2018BIO 155-025Impacts of Ocean Warming and Acidification on Coral ReefsFound on the ocean floor is an organism that can be bright in color and provides many advantages to its ecosystem, that organism is known as coral. Coral reefs are one of the most common marine species and can be so diverse that they are often called the “rainforests of the sea” (Knowlton). Corals are closely related to sea anemones, both in phylum Cnidaria, and share the same polyp structure with tentacle like structures attached to the end that allows them to capture food. The only difference is that the coral also produces a mineral like skeleton made of calcium carbonate. The coral is formed through a symbiotic relationship between the coral animal and algae, known as zooxanthellae. The algae give energy they have absorbed from the sun to the coral while the coral gives nutrients to the algae thus creating a symbiotic relationship where they both benefit (Knowlton). The coral then uses that energy to be able to grow into larger structures or colonies known as coral reefs. The production of a large coral reefs take years, the average rate of growth for coral is six inches per year (Knowlton). There are many economical and ecological benefits associated with coral making it a vital part of a marine ecosystem.