Reefs and Rainforests

Location:Turneffe Islands Atoll - Belize

Day 5
by Wayne & Karen Brown

Our diving here in Belize is great! There are so many things things to see on the reef underwater. A coral reef is like a underwater rainforest. Of course there are no trees underwater. But there are many ways coral reefs and rainforests are similar.

Reefs and rainforests protect the land from erosion from storms. The plants in the rainforest protect the soil from washing away during heavy rain storms. The coral reefs protect the land from from washing way from big waves during hurricanes. Big waves smash into the reefs and not the beach, so the land is protected.

Another way reefs and rainforests are similar is in their diversity of plants and animals. That means there are lots of different kinds of plants and animals that live there.

We have seen lots of different kinds of animals during our dives. We have seen very few plants. The underwater plants are algae. There is lots of algae on the reef, but we don't notice it that much. The algae we see here are small and don't grow tall. Some of the animals we see, like the corals, even have microscopic plants under their skin!

We see mostly animals on and around the reef. On the coral reef we see mostly corals and fish. Some of the corals look like rocks and are hard like rocks. Some of the corals look like fans or long cat's tails and are soft. Both hard and soft corals are actually made of hundreds or thousands of tiny animals, called polyps. These polyps live together in a group, called a colony. These different kinds of polyps make the different kinds of corals we see that cover the reefs.

Besides protecting the shore from erosion the coral reefs also are home thousand of fishes and other sea animals. Join us tomorrow and we will show you some of the different kinds of fishes that we found living on the reef.

Best Fishes,
Wayne & Karen Brown


Turneffe Islands Atoll, Belize

Position: 17º 09' N / 87º 55' W
Air Temp: 87ºF
Weather: light breeze, sunny with scattered clouds and calm seas.
Water Temp: 81ºF

Karen cruises across the reef on her scooter. What you can see are mostly hard and soft corals.

This is one of the plants we found in the sand near the reef, called Neptune's Shaving Brush. It is only about 3 inches tall. It looks like an old brush that men used for their shaving cream a long time ago. Because it is underwater it is one that the Little Mermaid's father, King Neptune, probably used for shaving.

Here is some hard and soft coral we found. The purple sea fan is a soft coral. the round hard corals are brain corals, because they like like brains. The brown branches sticking up are hard corals called stag horn corals, because they look like the horns of a stag deer.


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