The most fascinating aspects of
coral reefs relate to how corals and reef residents meet the challenges
of survival and live together.
The focus of this book is on how
a coral reef functions—the jobs of individual residents and how
they collectively create a sustainable community. The author explores
how solar energy powers the reef, how raw materials are used efficiently
and waste is recycled, why biodiversity is security, and how everything
is connected. There are also many insights into the more personal lives
of reef residents—some are strange as any science fiction. By
viewing coral reefs in the context of a human city, one can more easily
appreciate the creative ways reef communities operate; they neither
undermine their own survival nor that of other communities elsewhere.
In other words, a variety of species collectively enhances the survival
of the entire community.
Dr. Murphy sees reef communities
existing in a dynamic equilibrium where forces of competition, destruction,
and decay are balanced by cooperation, repair, and rejuvenation.
There are lessons for those of us
who are concerned about making our own communities more sustainable.
The subject matter is serious, but it is not taken so seriously that
it isn’t fun.