Reef Front

This region is exposed during low tide and receives the greatest wave action. The corals tend to be short and robust in structure, in response to growing in such a high energy area. Stony coral populations tend to be dominated by pocillopĂ´rids and acroporicls ( Ve f on, 1986). Lobophytu m, Sa reap by to n and Si n u la via a re the most abundant soft corals in these higher wave energy areas

(Dinesen,1983).

The outer reef flat lies above the mean low-water mark of spring tides. Seaward regions contain spur and groove zones in which fleshy green algae, sponges, encrusting stony and soft corals can grow in protected grooves and tunnels formed by the algae growth (Stoddart, 1973). These include Acropora, Goniastrea, Fa via, Fa vîtes, fungiids, the soft coral Lobophytu m and the zoanthid Palytboa. The algae are constantly being removed by wave action and are carried towards the leeward side of the reef, providing an input of nutrients. Some areas are devoid of coral growth and are dominated by coralline algae encrusted surfaces. In areas of lower wave energy or in leeward areas, extensive coral growth may be present that is contiguous with the coral flat. On some Indian Ocean reefs, seagrass beds are found in this area, composed of Tbalassia, Cymodocea and Syringodiii m ( Stoddart, 1973). In the Caribbean, Tbalassia and Syringodiii m also may occur here, though they are more typical of back reef margins and bays.

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