The Red Sea harbors more than 300 species of corals, which host thousands of other species of plants and animals. The complex ecosystem and the extreme conditions of the Red Sea have contributed to the development of many endemic species that make these coral reefs unique in the world.
Particularities of the Red Sea coral reef system
The coral reefs that can be found in the Red Sea are the northernmost in the Indian Ocean. Most of the reef platforms here are more than 5,000 thousand years old. The many coral reefs found here make up a complex that is more than 2,000 kilometers long. Many of the coral reefs start growing from the shoreline, with dominant species belonging to the Acropora and Porites genera. There are also many offshore coral reefs which have many particularities.
The uniqueness of many coral species in the Red Sea is largely due to the climate and extreme conditions of the sea. While, in other parts of the world, small temperature changes can be lethal or highly damaging to coral reefs, the inherent temperature fluctuations coupled with unusual tectonic forces mean that the corals living here have a much higher resistance. Most of them are unaffected by changes in temperature that would result in coral bleaching somewhere else in the world. The relatively low amounts of precipitation and river discharge and the fact that sand storms are quite common at the Red Sea have led to increased coral resistance to turbidity or water suspension as well.
The biodiversity in the Red Sea
There are many species of corals, as well as other animals and plants living in the Red Sea. Out of the 300 documented coral species, 200 are reef-building, belonging to more than 50 genera. This represents four times more species than in the Caribbean reefs. From the 1200 species of fish found in the red sea coral reef thesea.org system, 10 percent are endemic, meaning you won’t find these fish anywhere else in the world.
While the coral reefs living in the Red Sea are tougher than most species found in other waters, they are too affected by the lack of regulations and increased human development. However, with many coral reefs having more than 85% living cover in the best locations and about 50 percent live cover in most other parts, the Red Sea coral reef system is doing well considering the changes in other parts of the world.