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:
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.
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.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO PROTECT CORALS ?
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.