Losing Our Coral Reefs is Trouble

This Post is Prepared by Donnie Dann

Dazzling.” “Spectacular.” “Other worldly.” “Incredible.” Anyone who has been fortunate enough to see a thriving coral reef knows that these are only a few of the superlatives used to describe the sight. The best way to experience the reef is with scuba gear or while snorkeling, but even through a glass bottomed boat a viewer will get a sense of the reef’s spectacle. Coral reefs are clearly among the most amazing natural wonders on earth.

And aside from being beautiful, coral reefs constitute special and irreplaceable ecosystems with almost incalculable benefits to humans, animals, fish and plant life. Consider:

  • 25% of the oceans’ plant and animal life, including 4,000 species of fishes, make coral reefs their home. This is true even though these reefs occupy just 0.2% of the ocean floor.
  • The Earth Institute at Columbia University tells us coral reefs generate annual global economic value of $375 billion, including food and other resources for over 500 million people in 94 countries and territories.
  • These “rainforests of the ocean” contain some 800 kinds of coral and are biologically unique and unlike any other habitat type in the world.

But our planet’s coral reefs are in serious jeopardy. According to Voice of America, 75% of the world’s coral reefs are threatened, facing perils from a variety of sources including:

  • Fishing via dynamiting the coral;
  • Overfishing;
  • Coastal development, which causes nutrient runoff via farming, raw sewage and sedimentation;
  • Pollutants resulting in destructive algae blooms that smother the reef; and
  • Climate change. A recent study said virtually all coral reefs would be potentially at the risk of bleaching if global temperatures rose from the atmospheric goal in the Paris Climate Agreement of 1.5 degrees Celsius to the predicted 2 degrees Celsius if no action is taken. 

Please consider volunteering or donating to one or more of the highly effective conservation organizations dedicated (at least in part) to saving coral reefs, including Coral Reef Alliance, the Nature Conservancy and Oceana.

To learn more about this issue, please see the following websites:

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