Coral Reefs at Fort Zachary
Knobby brain coral, tube coral and starlet coral are just a few of the coral species that are found in the park. The reefs of the park are found between beds of large sea grass and the shore, which is not typical of coral reefs. However, sea grass beds do increase the clarity of the water around them, which in turn helps coral reefs grow.
Coral reefs attract a wide variety of plants and animals, often forming their own unique ecosystems. This is largely due to the reef’s structure: all the different coral species growing together, with their own unique shapes and sizes, creates lots of nooks and crannies within the reef itself. These spaces provide tons of homes for many different organisms, and these organisms in turn provide food for larger ones. Without the reef, many of these organisms would struggle to survive.
Many species of sponges and macroalgae use the reefs at the park, as well as a variety of small reef fish species. Some of the larger inhabitants of the reef include snappers, which are a popular fish among anglers and barracuda, which use their speed to ambush potential prey.
Snorkeling or scuba diving is a great way to explore the coral reef and see these species and many more!