Why Our Reefs Are Important to Marine Life; Dr Andrew J Davies Is an Academic at the School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University, and Is a Marine Biologist Investigating How and Why Animals Form Reefs

Article excerpt

WHEN you think of the word reef, many often imagine clear blue waters and colourful fish that swim above tropical coral reefs.

But there are reefs along the Welsh coastline created by worms, mussels and corals.

Some can be seen on the shore when the tide is out, while others are permanently hidden beneath the turbid waves, only revealed when collected by divers or ships.

But, they are as equally fascinating as their better-known and arguably more attractive tropical relations.

As our climate changes, so do our native reefs - they appear in areas they have never been found or disappear quickly leaving the shore as if they have never been there.

Understanding these organisms is an important area of marine biology. It has been the main focus of my research for over a decade.

the world.'s oceans cover 70% of the surface of the Earth, making it the largest ecosystem on the planet. It is also the most | Dr Andrew J important, as without it, humans and many organisms would not exist.

For millennia we have exploited it for food and natural resources, and it plays a great role in regulating our climate in Northern Europe.

Many humans have an innate interest in the marine environment and its animals.

I am no exception, from a young age I was fascinated by the natural world and the largely unknown nature of much of the ocean drew me towards marine biology.

One of the species I study is a worm that builds a sand tube around itself.

This particular species is known as the honeycomb worm and is found on shores throughout Wales.

When growing with many other worms, their tubes join at the sides, adding strength to its structure and ultimately forming a reef. …