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3 Types of Coral Reefs you Should Know About


Scientists generally divide coral reefs into three classes: barrier reefs, atolls, and fringing reefs.

Barrier reefs are extensive linear reef complexes that parallel a shore, and are separated from it by lagoon.  At their shallowest point, they can reach the water’s surface forming a “barrier” to navigation.  The Belize Barrier Reef, the 2nd largest in the world behind Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and has made Belize a premiere diving and conservation hotspot.

Belize Barrier Reef

Atolls are rings of coral that create protected lagoons and are usually located in the middle of the sea. Atolls usually form when islands surrounded by fringing reefs sink into the sea or the sea level rises around them (these islands are often the tops of underwater volcanoes). The fringing reefs continue to grow and eventually form circles with lagoons inside.

Glover’s Atoll, Belize

Fringing reefs grow near the coastline around islands and continents.  Since the grow from the shore that are sometimes referred to as shore reefs. They are separated from the shore by narrow, shallow lagoons. Fringing reefs are the most common type of reef.

Fringing Reef

Reef Conservation International works to protect the Belize Barrier Reef. It is one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. It is an incredible place for scuba diving, whale watching, and those who love the ocean and coral reefs.  Come join us to learn more about reefs and protect the world we love!