15 March, 2014
Can you imagine a world without Coral Reefs?
Corals may look like big chunks of rock but they are actually living organisms. The coral reefs that you see in the oceans are all composed of living things –and this ecosystem is being threatened like never before. To date, 27% of coral reefs have been destroyed. If the destruction continues, 60% will be gone in the next 30 years(1). Can you imagine a world without them?
The threat to corals are everywhere. Not all of the damage is deliberate, but rather a combination of different factors.
Direct Threats on Coral Reefs
- Tourism: The simple act of standing on corals and touching them can cause damage that will take millennia to mend, if ever. Boat propellers, snorkeling, dropping anchors on the reef and more are just some of the examples of how humans are harming the reefs.
- Commercial Traps: Lobster traps are light enough to be moved by the current but heavy enough to damage a coral when it comes in contact with one.
- Destructive Fishing Methods: Cyanide Fishing kill polyps and algae. It requires the fishermen to break the corals in order to get the fish that they stunned. Muro ami is the act of banging the reef with sticks. These practices have been banned, including blast and dynamite fishing.
Indirect Threats on Coral Reefs
- Poisonous Chemicals and Toxins: Fertilizers, pesticides, sewage, oil pollution and other man made toxins are poisoning the reefs. They are either dumped directly or carried by the rain or rivers into our oceans.
- Too Much Sediment: This comes from farms or construction sites near the ocean. The sediment kills corals by blocking the sunlight or clogging their mouths. (Yes, they have mouths)
- Climate Change: Global warming has caused an increase in coral bleaching, and it can only get worse. 80% of the added heat in our climate is being absorbed by the ocean. Corals cannot survive on waters with too high temperatures.
- Pollution: Corals need clean water to live. The garbage that we throw in our oceans affects the quality of the water.
The beauty and importance of Coral Reefs have prompted many groups to rescue them through several conservation efforts. More of the reefs are being tagged as Marine Protection Areas and destructive fishing practices have been banned in many countries.
Do your share. Don’t throw your litter in the ocean and support businesses that protect our coral reefs. Can you imagine a world without them?
- WWF: Fast facts - why coral reefs are important to people
- Defenders of Wildlife: Basic Facts about Coral Reefs
- Eco Kids: What is a coral reef?