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Environmental Science

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For my research paper on Coral Reefs, can someone please help me write an intro paragraph? I think I should first start by writing a thesis statement, although I'm not sure if thesis statements are required in research papers. If so, please help me.

This is the info I've collected so far:

Coral reefs are limestone ridges built by tiny coral animals called coral polyps. Coral polyps secrete skeletons of limestone which slowly accumulate and form coral reefs.

Corals live only in clear and warm salt water where there is enough light for photosynthesis, so coral reefs are found in shallow, tropical seas.

"There are three major types of coral reefs: fringing reefs, barrier reefs and atolls. Fringing reefs hug the coastline and barrier reefs grow farther away from the coast, with a lagoon in between.
There are several types of corals including soft corals, sea fans and hard corals. Soft corals feel like soft shoe leather and their skeleton has been reduced to tiny rods that are found throughout their tissue. Sea fans have a wiry, flexible internal skeleton and lots of tiny polyps on the branches of the flat fan-shaped structure. "

Thousands of species of plants and animals live in the cracks and crevices of coral reefs, which makes coral reefs among the most diverse ecosystems on Earth. Because of their convoluted shape, reefs provide habitats for a magnificent variety of tropical fish, and for snails, clams, and sponges.

Coral reefs are useful to humans and the environment in many different ways. They protect shores from the impact of waves and from storms. They provide a lot of benefits to humans in the form of food and medicine. Also, they provide economic benefits to local communities from tourism.

(from book)An estimated 27 percent of the coral reefs in the world are in danger of destruction from human activities. If the water surrounding a reef is too hot or too cold or if fresh water drains into the water surrounding a reef, the corals may die. If the water is too muddy, polluted, or too high in nutrients, the algae that live within the corals will either die or grow out of control. If the algae grows out of control, it may kill the corals.
Oil spills, sewage, pesticides, and silt runoff have been linked to coral-reef destruction. Furthermore, over fishing can devastate fish populations and upset the balance of a reef’s ecosystem. Because coral reefs grow slowly, a reef may not be able to repair itself after chunks of coral are destroyed by careless divers, fisheries, shipwrecks, ships dropping anchor, or people breaking off pieces of it for decorative items or building materials.
(from website) A major environmental threat to coral reefs is increased temperature of ocean water. The increased temperature puts stress on the highly sensitive corals, causing them to expel the algae that live inside the coral polyps.

I think this, along with a little more information, will be enough to write my 3-4 pages double spaced paper.

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