Types of Coral reefs | Barrier, Fringing, Atolls reefs

There are many types of coral reefs in the world, each with its own combination of characteristics, habitat and species. You’ll have heard about coral reefs from stories, documentaries and pictures on TV or in books. You may even have a brief understanding of their importance as a source of livelihood for nations and businesses. However, how large is your knowledge about coral reefs as a whole? If you have a general idea of how big a reef is, but no specific details on where and how much coral is found in any given area, then you will lack much of an understanding of what makes a healthy coral reef begin with. The researchers have generally classified the coral reefs into three types which are barrier reefs, atolls, and fringing reefs.

Barrier Reef:

The Barrier Reef, also known as “Marae Shores” is a large swath of coral reef located in Western Australia. It encircles the Great Southern Ocean and extends south-westwards into the Coral Sea and circumscribes the islands of Henderson, Tablelands and Esperance.

Fringing reefs:

They grow directly from a shore. They are located very close to land, and often form a shallow lagoon between the beach and the main body of the reef. A fringing reef runs as a narrow belt.


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.