A reef is a bar of rock, sand, coral or similar material, lying beneath the surface of water. Many reefs result from abiotic processes (i.e. deposition of sand, wave erosion planing down rock outcrops, and other natural processes), but the best known reefs are the coral reefs of tropical waters developed through biotic processes dominated by corals and calcareous algae. Artificial reefs (e.g. shipwrecks) sometimes have a role in enhancing the physical complexity of featureless sand bottoms, in order to attract a diverse assemblage of organisms, especially algae, and fish. Earth's largest and most famous reef is the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, at a length of 2,300 kilometres.
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