The Red Sea Ecosystem
When the Red Sea, which is 2000 kilometres in length and 2000 metres in depth, opened its southern gateway to the Indo-Pacific several million years ago, it gradually become populated by marine life from that oceanic region. However, as the southern opening is just a narrow passage to the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea is an almost isolated body of water with its own warmer temperature and unique salinity. Over 10% of the fish species are endemic, living mainly in the sea grass beds, sand zones and fringed coral reefs.
This unique marine environment is quite literally teeming with life. Reef sharks, stingrays, turtles, dolphins, colourful corals, sponges, sea urchins, sea cucumbers plus a multitude of mollusks and a huge variety of smaller fish species all thrive in these waters resulting in an amazing spectacle of colour and form.
Coral reefs have existed on this planet for approximately 450 million years and are the result of a remarkable relationship between microscopic algae and coral species. If the corals become damaged it means that the ecological balance of the reef will be permanently disturbed; the result of such disturbance would be the loss of coral productivity and biodiversity which in turn would have serious consequences for this unique and valuable ecosystem and ultimately the planet.