5 Reasons Why We Need to Protect Coral Reefs

Known as the ‘Rainforest of the Ocean’, Coral Reefs can be found all over the globe. Not only are they beautiful to look at, with their diversity in vibrant colors and textures, but they are also extremely important to keep the ocean’s ecosystem in check. 

Unfortunately, in a recent development, coral reefs are deteriorating and dying at an alarming rate due to human and natural pressures that range from overfishing and human destruction to ocean acidification and climate change. 

Here are 5 reasons why we need Coral Reefs and should therefore protect them:

1. Biodiversity

Coral Reefs are home to more than a  ¼ of all marine animals on the planet. Thousands of species can be found living on one reef only and a greater species diversity ensures natural sustainability for all life forms.

2. Coastal Protection

With their massive formations between the surface and the first few dozen meters of depth, coral reefs form a protective barrier that absorbs the elements coming from the open sea. They absorb wave energy and contribute to the reduction of coastal erosion and therefore reduce damage in the event of storms, hurricanes and other natural disasters. This way, they protect both the ecosystems between the reefs and the coasts, as well as civilization along the coast. Humans have even started to recreate this effective strategy by immersing concrete structures along some of our more fragile coastlines, as some islands would no longer exist without this safety measure.

3. Economy

Millions of people around the world depend on reefs for food, protection, and employment. Especially the tourism sector and local economies benefit from intact Coral Reefs, as visitors from all over the world come to admire their reefs by snorkeling or scuba diving to explore them. If managed sustainably, respectfully meaning handling reefs by limiting the destruction and pollution-induced by this same tourism, especially when it comes to mass tourism, can provide a sustainable income source for coastal communities in developing countries.

4. MEDICinal Research

Coral organisms and their defense adaptabilities are of great interest in the search for treatments for certain cancers or the aging of cells. Since, so far, only a small fraction of organisms have been sampled, analyzed, and tested, the potential for new pharmaceutical discoveries is enormous.

5. Food resource

Worldwide, coral reefs play a vital role in providing food for more than 500 million people living on or near the coast. Coral reefs provide about 10% of the fish caught worldwide. But this figure rises to 20-25% in developing countries, and 70-90% in Southeast Asian countries.


Now that we know plenty of reasons why we should protect coral reefs, let’s take a quick look at what we can do to help to preserve them.

There are plenty of lifestyle choices in our everyday life that would, in the long run, help the overall environment, coral reefs included.

Most important of all:  Reducing our waste, especially reducing our use of single-use plastic. Proper disposal of trash, choosing more environmentally friendly means of transportation, saving energy and water in ours home, help to limit our impact on the environment. 

As a diver or watersports fan remember to practice safe and responsible diving and snorkeling. Avoid touching reefs or anchoring a boat on a reef. This is very likely to damage or even kill the delicate coral. 

Also, check if your sunscreen is coral-safe. Some ingredients in regular sunscreen can be harmful or even toxic to corals. Or just avoid using a lot of sunscreen by protecting your skin with a rashguard or long-sleeved shirt.

If you share our fascination for the ocean and want to know more about marine life, scuba diving, underwater photography, and much more, check out other articles on our website.

A funeral ceremony on Java

Sequel of “Diving into Balinese Culture”

Smiling right into death’s face

One Morning Ketut made me an offer that I couldn’t refuse. He invited me to join him and his wife on a journey to the neighboring island called Java. With a smile in his face he explained that his uncle died and that his whole family is gathering in their home village to cremate his body in a big ceremony. Up to this point it was hard for me to understand how managed to say these words with this big smile on his face.
In the afternoon of the same day we travelled to Java by car and ferry. As we reached the small village next to the city of Bunyuwangi late at night, Ketut’s blind brother welcomed us on the family’s farm. It didn’t took me long to fall asleep.

Party Time

Suddenly I woke up to the loud cackle of a chicken. Some of the guest were gathering already in front of the house. Everyone was in a cheerful mood, I got offered coffee and rice. They were smiling the whole time. I could already hear the distant drums of the celebration. Ketut was in a rush, he explained that he has to leave to get involved with the preparations and that I would be taken care of by one of his closest friends who would take me to the celebration later. As I finished my coffee I got dressed by Ketut’s wife. Wearing a black sarong and a black turban I made my way to the fairground.
The drumroll got louder as we approached the location. Equipped with my camera I was strolling through the crowd of people and every single one of them wanted to be photographed. No besides Ketut spoke English, but we were able to communicate with hand signs. Children were playing on the gras and adults were sitting on plastic chairs. Everybody was desperately waiting for the big moment. Up to this point I didn’t felt like being on a funeral but rather on a joyful village festival. The people seemed frisky, were fooling around and everyone seemed delighted. The women were sitting together apart from the men, grinning shy for my camera.
From one moment to the other, total silence. One of the priests started to chant very loud, everyone joined him. A thread made out of fabric was spanned through the lines of mourners. Another priest burned the threat bit by bit with a candle. Afterwards they distributed pieces of coconuts which were placed on everyones hand and then thrown in the air accompanied by a loud scream and until now I still don’t really know why they did it.
The ceremony was about get started. In a rush some men took a cardboard box out of a small room. This was where the deceased was stored in. Before they continued they started turning in circles with the box on their shoulders to confuse the deceased’s soul. Loud drumming started again and the locals began to decorate the cardboard box with flours and bright colors. A caravan of people arose followed by the men caring the decorated coffin. They were heading towards a nearby river where the villages “big Tempel” is located. 

A celebration of fire

As the caravan reached the Temple they took the corpse out of the cardboard box and started unwrapping it. It was my first time seeing a dead body and I froze on the spot. After several minutes of calming myself down I was able to rebound and I continued taking pictures. Having my camera at hand helped me to look much more professional as I actually felt in these moments. Suddenly I realized that everyone else didn’t stopped smiling what made me gain some comfort again.

Then the corpse was placed in between to metal plates and swamped with flowers and offerings. The drums reached a certain volume that made it impossible to have a conversation. All eyes were aiming for the the priests who started to set the corpse on fire. Loud chanting and deafening drumming were dominating the scene. I felt like in a trance and most of the other guests seemed to feel similarly.
The heat of the wild burning fire caressed my skin. Despite dozens of incense sticks around me I smelled something very unpleasant. The Fire was enhancing and dense smoke started to cover the Tempel Area. And then it struck me, that the children were staring into the flames. They were the only ones watching the body burning until the end.
It took a couple of minutes and then the only thing left of the corpse was ash that was scattered all over the place. The drums were fading away and the ceremony was over.

Exhausted I started my search for Ketut who found shelter from the sun under a big tree. He realized my bewilderedness, offered me some Water and fresh fruits and we started to talk about todays events.

Balinese cremation ceremonies differ from person to person and from village to village depending on the rank and popularity of the deceased. Ketut explained, that everything I experienced today were special rituals of his village orientated on Bali’s culture. In Hinduism death is seen as one of life’s most important steps. Adapting the idea of Karma, death isn’t the end of ones life but an important part of enlightenment. Rebirth is dominating the ideology of Bali’s people. This is the reason why the cremation ceremonies are planned with a lot of caution and respect to soul of the deceased to allow it a safe entry into the next life.

Between volcanos and rice fields I learned one of life’s most important lessons. I am not part of any kind of world religion nevertheless I have to acknowledge the influence that the ceremony had on my way to think. Shiva, the God that destroys with fire and recreates with drum roll changed my picture of death. Hindus believe, that Shiva dances in the heart of each living individual and and in between every swing of it’s dance, creation and destruction occurs.
I am very grateful to have met all these amazing people in Indonesia, who took me into their homes and treated me like family. They invited me to join them on a very special event and I can never thank them enough for what they did for me. They taught me that the small things in life matter, like introducing a young german traveller to their own culture. By being generous, openhearted, kind and good to the people you encounter during your life you will reach immortality.

Still, death is part of everyones life and I will always remember the happy mourners of Indonesia.

I got the chance to publish a german version of this article in a german newspaper last year – click here to check it out :

You want to know how I got myself into this adventure? Read “Diving into Balinese Culture”

Diving into Balinese Culture

Squeezed in between five locals on three tiny seats I am looking out of the bus windows, where Javas breathtaking landscape is passing by in front of my eyes. Volcanos shape the appearance of the one thousand kilometer long island and many of them are still active. Black smoke breaks the path out of the deep craters and remind me about my adventures of the past days.

The wheels of the airplane touched the ground with a loud zing. Two weeks ago i started my travels to Indonesia targeting mainly Balis underwater world. Chris, my 34 year old friend and dive buddy from Patagonia welcomed me with his huge smile on Denpasar’s airport. Together we set of to the sleepy village of Tulamben in the north east of Bali, where we planned to discover new underwater treasures. 

Read about my underwater experience of Tulamben in my Blog “Diving Tulamben, Bali”.

Chris left Tulamben after days of intense diving to make his way back to Thailand, I stayed and moved into the home of a balinese family.

On Bali, hospitality is capitalized.

Ketut, a local from Bali with a heart of gold would have wanted to adopt me as his son right away. Every morning I woke up to the delicious smell of a special balinese coffee called Luwak. His wife loved to cook the finest mouth-watering Indonesian dishes for me and his brother in law introduced me to Bali’s religion and the world of the many Gods.

An island with some hills

With over 3000 Meters of height juts the active volcano Agung over the north east of Bali. The mountain was already seen as a holy place for thousands of years. “Gunung Agung” as the locals call it or “giant mountain” stimulated the phantasy of the islands native inhabitants. They tried to explain the eruptions of the volcano by the power of the animistic gods living in it.
For a long time there were no modern religions on the island of Bali. Today, the island is dominated by Hinuds, Buddhists, Muslims and some few Christians. A remarkable feature of Balis Hinduism is the merge of Hinduism with the animistic believes of a distant past.

Wayan, Ketut’s brother in law is a an active Hindu, traveling to regularly to ceremonies in Tempels all over Bali. I had the great honor to join him and his family on one of his journeys. Dressed in a white sarong, a thin cloth which is wrapped around the waist and a kind of turban on my head we made our way to a new build Tempel at the foot of the infamous volcano Agung. Within a festive ceremony I got washed with holy water and got rice attached to my forehead, a symbol for wisdom.
The intimidating scenery of the Tempel, with an active volcano in the background had a strong impact on me and made me experience this moment with an unknown passion. I will never forget the feeling I had after the ceremony, because even if I am not belonging to any kind of religion I could strongly feel the spirituality which is so important to Balis people.

To be continued in “A celebration of Fire”