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Often called "rainforests of the sea", shallow coral reefs form some of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth.They occupy less than 0.1% of the world's ocean surface, about half the area of France, yet they provide a home for at least 25% of all marine species, Paradoxically, coral reefs flourish even though they are surrounded by ocean waters that provide few nutrients.Unlike sea anemones, corals secrete hard carbonate exoskeletons which support and protect the coral polyps.
This means that most modern coral reefs are less than 10,000 years old.
Coral reefs are diverse underwater ecosystems held together by calcium carbonate structures secreted by corals.
Coral reefs are built by colonies of tiny animals found in marine water that contain few nutrients.
Sea level was then 120 m (390 ft) lower than in the 21st century.
As sea level rose, the water and the corals encroached on what had been hills of the Australian coastal plain.