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The coral reefs are classified depending on their locations, into fringing, patch, barrier and atoll. The fringing reefs are contiguous with the shore and they are the most common - by occurring reef form, found in the Andamans. Patch reefs are isolated and discontinuous patches, lying shoreward of offshore reef structures, as seen in the Palk Bay, the Gulf of Mannar and the Gulf of Kachchh. Barrier reefs are linear offshore reef structures that run parallel to the coastlines and arise from submerged shelf platforms. The water body between the reef and the shore is termed as lagoon. Barrier reefs are seen in the Nicobar and Lakshadweep. Atolls are circular or semi-circular reefs that arise from subsiding sea floor platforms, as coral reef building keeps ahead of subsidence. The examples are the atolls of Lakshadweep and Nicobar.

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