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Tales of the Coast
Coastal Dynamics

Waves and Coral Coasts

Waves are a prerequisite for coral coast formation. Reef-building corals require reasonably high wave-energy environments to maintain the water clarity, to deliver nutrients, to disperse larvae, to remove sediment, and to limit competition and predation.

Coral coasts, such as those found along the southern Atlantic coast and Hawaii, consist of reefs and also calcareous sediments along the shore. Waves help pulverize coral skeletons to produce this sediment.

Coral Reef Near Hawaii
Source: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Adminstration (NOAA)

Waves and Coral Coasts

Higher plants have not evolved mechanisms to enable them to physically withstand high wave-energy environments. Thus, simple plants, mainly algaes, form the bases of the food chain for these marine coastal communities.