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Fringing Reef

Last updated date: 27th Feb 2024
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Fringing Reef Definition

Fringing reef meaning can be defined as a coral reef that lies close to the shore. The fringing reef is the most common of the three main forms of coral reefs, with examples found in all major coral reef growth regions. The New Hebrides Society islands off the coast of Australia and the southern coast of Florida have fringing reefs.

One of the three major forms of coral reef is a fringing reef. It differs from the other major groups, fringing barrier, and atoll reefs, in that it either has a completely shallow back reef zone (lagoon) or none at all. Barrier reef fringing reef and atoll can be explained as An atoll is created when a fringing reef continues to expand upward from a volcanic island that has sunk completely below sea level. Atolls are usually circular or oval, with a central open lagoon. The coral flat stretches to the beach when a fringing reef rises directly from the shoreline, and there is no backref. Fringing reef barrier reefs and atoll are widely spread and having large importance. In other cases (for example, the majority of the Bahamas), fringing reefs may develop hundreds of yards from the shore and include extensive backreef areas with numerous seagrass meadows and patch reefs. This is the most common form of fringing coral reef found in the Caribbean and the Red Sea. Fringing reefs, according to Charles Darwin, are the first type of reef to form around a landmass in a long-term reef growth phase.

Structure of Fringing Reef:

There are two main components that makeup of fringing reef which is mentioned below:

Reef Flat ( Back Reef)

The reef flat is the reef's most shoreward, flat, and broadest location. The reef flat is located in relatively shallow water and is exposed at low tide. The reef is only slightly slanted towards the open ocean in this location. The reef flat does the most damage from runoff and sediments because it is adjacent or nearby adjacent to the shore. Usually, only a few of the corals on the flat are alive. There are also seagrasses, seaweeds, and soft corals to be found there.

Reef Slope (Fore Reef)

The coral slope is located on the fringing reef's outer side, nearest to the open ocean. This section of the reef is often very steep, descending either to a shallow sand bottom or to depths too great for coral development. Coral is much more common on this slope, both in terms of numbers and the diversity of organisms. This is mostly due to the lower concentration of runoff and sediments here. Pollutants are dispersed and nutrients are transported to this environment as a result of increased wave action. Spur and groove formations, which carry sediment downslope in the groove, are a common feature on the fore reef.

Formation of Fringing Reefs

The availability of space, as determined by sea-level changes, is the most important determinant of fringing reef development. Glaciers and plate tectonics are the main causes of sea-level changes. Tectonic activity may have a negative effect. An earthquake on Ranongga, in the Solomon Islands, raised 80 percent of the island's fringing reef above sea level permanently. Northern reefs rose 1 meter above the high tide water level, while reefs on the south side rose 2 to 3 meters above the water level. Reefs that keep up with the rising sea level are known as keep-up reefs. Catch-up reefs expand slower than sea level rises at first, but gradually catch up as the rise slows or stops. Reefs that have given up are unable to develop quickly enough and are "drowned out." 

The reef crest is the uppermost part of this slope. Since the crest has the best combination of sunlight and waves, coral grows here the fastest. Out of the entire slope, the base receives the least sunlight and has the least development.

Distribution of Fringing Reef

Fringing reefs are the most common reef form in the tropics, and they are found near the shore in many places. Coral reefs are located in the tropics, where the water temperature is between 18 and 30 degrees Celsius (64 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit). Many of the sections of the Great Barrier Reef are simply fringing reefs. Just 760 of the nearly 3,400 individual reefs are fringing reefs. The reef near Msambweni, Kenya, is the world's largest continuous fringing reef, stretching from Msambweni to Malindi in the north. Coral reefs that develop on the continental margins or on the island’s area unit referred to as fringing reefs. Such reefs are found close to Rameshwaram within the Gulf of Mannar. Sometimes the fringing reef is separated from the shore by a shallow lake brought up as a "Boat Channel" as found in Madagascar and the Red Sea.

Fringing Reefs Around the World

The Ningaloo Reef is the world's largest fringing reef, extending 260 kilometers along Australia's western coast. Because of its proximity to the sea, it is a popular snorkeling and scuba diving spot.

FAQs on Fringing Reef

1. Explain the Importance of Fringing Reef?

Ans: Fringing coral is the most common form of coral reef found in the Caribbean and the Red Sea. In a long-term reef growth process, fringing reefs, according to Charles Darwin, are the first type of reef to form around a landmass. Fringing reefs play an important role as they protect shorelines from storm-wave destruction, as well as other essential ecosystems including seagrass beds, mangroves, and saltmarsh. Many commercially fished species, such as Coral trout, can be found.

2. Do Coral Reefs Produce Oxygen?

Ans: Yes, coral reefs produce oxygen which is very important for living beings. Coral reefs occupy just 0.0025% of the ocean floor, but they provide half of the world's oxygen and consume nearly a third of the carbon dioxide generated by burning fossil fuels. Oceans have at least half of the oxygen on the planet. Photosynthetic plankton abounds in the ocean's surface layer. They contain more oxygen than the largest redwoods, despite being invisible to the naked eye. Oceans provide between 50 and 80 percent of the oxygen produced on Earth, according to scientists.