Are you aware that coral reefs occupy less than 1% of the ocean floor but are home to more than 25% of all marine life? Or that coral reefs are experiencing more acidity than they have in the last 400,000 years? Coral reefs are imperative to the health of our oceans. Take a look at what is the real cause of reef degradation.
Coral reefs are home to the most diverse marine population on the entire planet. Coral builds the reef structure to support the marine ecosystem. Unfortunately, coral reefs are dying off at a rapid rate. The main stressors for coral reefs are overfishing, climate change, and pollution. As sea temperatures rise, algae dies off causing coral bleaching. Coral that has been bleached is susceptible to disease and eventually is destroyed. Millions of people rely on the reefs for food, livelihood, and provide protection from storms. Here are some facts on coral reef degradation.
Coral Degradation Facts:
- There are thousands of species of coral.
- About one-fifth of all coral reefs have been destroyed.
- Half of the worlds shallow water reefs have already been destroyed.
- Resorts and other coastal developments have been built directly on top of reefs or close enough to cause significant damage.
- Urban and industrial waste, plastics, sewage, agrochemicals, and oil pollution are poisoning the reefs.
- 22% of The Great Barrier Reef, has been shown to have significant coral mortality, with over 90% being affected by bleaching.
- The value of coral reefs has been estimated at 30 billion US dollars.
- It can take thousands of years for a sizable reef to form and up to millions of years for barrier reefs and atolls to form.
How can I make an impact:
Action 1: Global Goodness
- Switch out your sunscreen. You can easily do your part to remove toxic sunscreens from your beach routine. Switching to reef safe sunscreens can greatly reduce your participation in chemical pollution. Sunscreens containing oxybenzone or other forms of benzones are synthetics chemicals that have been shown to damage reef health.
- Be a mindful neighbor. Coral is a small living animal. Everytime you walk on our touch coral, you are damaging it.
Action 2: Planet Protector
- All of Action 1
- Pick up the litter. Litter and plastic cleanup is another way we can do our part. Going to the beach? Take a trash bag to gather litter as you walk.
- Host a beach clean up and share your knowledge. By educating people on the importance of keeping the beaches clean and utilizing other reef saving techniques we can shift the tides of reef destruction.
Action 3: Earth Angel
- All of Action 1 & 2
- Support initiatives on climate change. There are numerous agencies out there working hard to protect reef life.
- Pressure politicians to protect reefs. The US Coral Reef Force develops strategies to protect the reefs, but we must do more. Stronger regulations on overfishing, pollution runoff, and climate change policies are imperative.