What is a reef?

Modern coral reef

Reefs are massive accumulations of limestone created by reef-building organisms with calcite skeletons. Mounds of these skeletons build up over thousands of years.

Caves and channels within these mounds are home to many other animals, the reef-dwellers. Some reef-dwellers bore, burrow or scrape away at the calcite framework, reducing it to loose sediment. They are known as reef-destroyers.

All these groups of animals and plants together form the reef community.

The reef community

Explore a present-day coral reef

Explore the Wenlock reef

Site Map | About This Site | Contact Us

© 2008 Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences | Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge