The reef face zone (also often called the “fore reef” or “reef front”) begins at the seaward base of the reef crest. Here the sea floor begins to slope downward somewhat gently at first and then ever more steeply.
This zone contains the greatest mass and diversity of hard corals found in coral reef ecosystems. It also is home to the greatest number of coral reef fish species of any of the three major reef zones.
For these reasons, along with the zone’s extensive depth range and ease of access from the open sea, this is where most recreational coral reef scuba diving occurs. In many cases, the face plunges abruptly to great depths, creating formations popularly known to scuba divers as “walls”.
Two distinctly different segments of this zone are generally recognized, simply called the “upper” and “lower” portions.