Warm & Cold Coral Reefs

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What’s the difference between warm and cold water coral reefs?

Cold coral reef
Courtesy of An Post

Warm water reefs need the light from the sun to make food and grow. They are usually found in shallow waters where the sunlight can reach the reef. The sunlight also makes the water warm, giving it the name warm water reef. The Great Barrier Reef is a warm water shallow reef.

The Irish coral reefs are coldwater reefs. They don’t need the sunlight to make food so they are found much deeper in the sea. As there is no sunlight, the water is cold. Coldwater reefs survive by trapping plankton (small sea animals) and other tiny food particles in the water, although they take a very long time to grow.

Scientists think that the Irish coldwater coral reefs are about 4,500 years old.