The ocean reefs are among the most populated area of aqua life. The water is usually shallow, and because of that it is warmer in these areas. Many different species reside in the reefs, or around them. Among these are Sea horses, starfish, sea urchins, and many other small, delicate creatures. The drawback to these meek creatures living together in the amazing mazes of the water, is that the larger predators know exactly where to find them.
There are many predators on the reef. Of course the main threat is the shark. And not just any shark, but tiger sharks, Lemon sharks, and galapogos sharks, among others. Black tipped sharks and manta rays are large predators as well. And since the reefs are so close to the surface, birds are also a great threat to the reef wild life.
Tiger sharks are the most feared, being a scavenger they eat anything in any shape or size. they are very big, weighing more than a ton, and they eat seals, squid, turtles and even other sharks that may be unfortunate enough to be smaller than they. These sharks have also been known to eat any birds that they may get ahold of. These sharks hunt in the night when it is darkest, and they usually do it alone.
Lemon sharks are large yellowish predators that lurk near the surface, and at shallow depths. Although less imposing than the rest of the sharks, these ones still have an appetite for anything that comes in their way.
Galapagos sharks are also found near the surface, feeding on smaller fish and such. The Manta rays feed on smaller fish, lobster and even octopus. They filter water through their mouths to do this. There are also sea slugs that consume, of all things sponges. There are also flatworms that travel all over the coral and feed on animals that are smaller than that of themselves.
Though the reefs have enough problems with their fellow fish, there are many other dangers that trhe reefs may face in the future. If we are discussing predators of the reefs we must consider humans as well. Things like over fishing, sewage and the collection of coral for private collections are a common problem to the natural phases of coral life.
Sedimentation is a problem, as well as dredging off of the coast. The latest of the predators, ironically enough is the starfish itself. This is the Crown- of-thorns starfish, and an individual one may consomme about six square meters of coral per year. While that doesn’t sound like alot to us, multiply that by the what is considered an unhealthy manifestation of this species in unusually large numbers. Thee species are spiny and toxic, and if contact is made can cause immediate swelling and nausea for days.
The WWF (World Wildlife Fund) has been monitoring this since as early as April of this year and estimate the loss of hundreds of miles of coral unless we put a stop to over fishing off of the reefs and putting a hamper on pollution. The reefs are disappearing at five times faster than the rainforest’s! To help in aiding the stop of such acts, the WWF offers a petition that can be found at http://passport.panda.org/campaigns/action_epetition.cfm?uCampaignId=1641&uActionId=2421. If we all will sign this we can start action to protect our reefs.