Where Are Coral Reefs Located?
Coral reefs are found in all three of the Earth’s oceans that have portions in the tropics – the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian.
However, coral reefs are not randomly scattered throughout each of these great ocean basins (see map below).
Why? Because the global distribution of coral reefs is largely determined by the ecological requirements of the reef-building corals themselves.
The coral animals that build tropical reefs require sunlight found in clear, shallow ocean waters.
This need for light is tied to the corals’ dependence upon their photosynthetic partners (zooxanthellae) dwelling within the animal tissues. Even in the clearest of tropical seas, most photosynthesis only occurs in the relatively thin uppermost 100-200 ft. of the sea.