What are the largest living structures of biological origin on earth? The answer is… coral reefs. The Great Barrier Reef, which is really a complex of many reefs, is 92,000 square miles large, and can be seen from the moon!
Have you seen a coral reef, flown over one, swam in its warm tropical waters? This is definitely the time of year in our northern latitudes, during the dead of winter, when dreams of traveling to any place south of the Tropic of Cancer or north of the Tropic of Capricorn, to the seas and oceans of the coral reefs, fill our minds with warm images of blue oceans and yellow sun—– the Caribbean, the Java Sea, the Red Sea, Polynesia, Micronesia and Hawaii. Need I say more?
Coral reefs are the tropical rain forests of the ocean, home to 25% of all marine species. There are approximately 600 different limestone producing species that can be involved in the forming of a reef, each producing its own unique limestone structure. Taxonomists have categorized descriptively reef building coral into ten basic shapes with many variations within each grouping: branching corals, digitate corals, table corals, elkhorn corals, follose corals, encrusting corals, submassive corals, massive corals, mushroom corals and cup corals. It has taken the coral family thousands of years to build their limestone communities.
The basic unit of all coral reefs is the individual coral polyp, a tiny polyp like
Besides the amazing limestone structures resulting from the excrement of trillions of polyps, each individual coral polyp sends out a lateral sheet of tissue that joins with its coral neighbor enabling the colony to be connected as one living tissue blanketing the top layer of limestone. It is the reason that coral reefs can be called the earth’s largest living structures.
As ecosystems go, the coral reefs are right on top, along with the tropical rain
Coral reefs show a spectacular array of symbiotic relationships, and none are more close to the coral polyps than their microscopic symbiotic algae friends, the Zooxanthellae. These microscopic algae live within the mucous of the tissue membrane lining the polyp’s gastrovascular cavity. They supply the coral with the oxygen and the organic products of photosynthesis. These compounds include glucose, glycerol, amino acids and the coral used these as the building blocks for proteins, fats and carbohydrates, as well as calcium carbonate. The coral in turn provides protection for the algae, and metabolic waste nutrients- carbon dioxide, nitrates and phosphates.
Why then are many of the coral reefs dying?
Black-band Disease, Dark Spot Disease, Red-band Disease, White-band Disease, White Plague Disease, White Pox Disease, Yellow Blotch Disease and coral bleaching, all diseases of the coral, having one thing in common. They are the result of a dysbiotic state that has developed within the coral’s mucous membranes. Dysbiosis, is a central topic in the practice of holistic medicine. In regards to the coral, as in humans, there are many different dysbiotic scenarios that can develop. One example for the coral is, that as the oceans waters have warmed scientists have observed the polyps expelling out from their gut their algae symbionts. The result is the corals ultimate death.
The bottom line for the coral is that increased water temperatures, ultraviolet radiation, sedimentation and pollutants have altered their nutrient load which has allowed for the proliferation and colonization of disease causing microbes. Like humans, the corals biotic stressors are pathogenic bacteria, fungi and viruses.
In our next email we will look at our own symbiotic community. The vast ecosystem with our human gut called— the human microbiome.
Clinical Note: It is winter and a time for colds, soar throats and flews. A protective and preventative combination is the No.7 Systemic Booster (one tsp a day) and the Organic Freeze Dried Garlic (one to two capsules as needed).
P.S. If you have missed any piece of the previous De-Evolution Series, we have archived them on our Home Page under the Publishing Blog Tab. Within this tab find Categories and under that click on Environmental Quality.
There is hope. In September 2008 Smithsonian Magazine published an article entitled, “Our Imperiled Oceans: Victory at Sea“. It describes the world’s largest protected area established last year in the remote Pacific, and points the way to restoring marine ecosystems.