Difference between fringing reefs and barrier reefs

A coral reef is a limestone rock which is made up of skeletons of small living organisms called polyps.

The formation of coral reefs is highly attributed to the presence of calcium carbonate in the skeletons of polyps.



When the polyps die, their skeletons which contain calcium carbonate are compacted together to form a coral rock.

In East Africa, they are only found along the East African coast.



Differences between the fringing reef and barrier reef

  • Fringing reef is joined to the mainland while the barrier reef is separated from the mainland.
  • A fringing reef is separated from the mainland by a narrow lagoon while a barrier reef is separated from the mainland by a wide lagoon.
  • A fringing reef is near the coast while the barrier reef is far away from the coast.
  • A fringing reef is exposed at low tide while a barrier reef is never exposed at a low tide.



  • Accumulated material of a fringing reef lies at shallow depth while accumulated material of a barrier reef lies at great depth.
  • A fringing reef has a narrow platform while a barrier reef has a wider platform.
  • The lagoon of a fringing reef may disappear but the lagoon of a barrier reef is permanent.



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