Coral reefs

Coral reefs stretch over 280,000 km in tropical areas. The reefs act as a “home,” and also is known as a shelter for many different species. Many people call the coral reef the “rainforests of the sea.”

Coral reefs help out the environment as well as us humans. The reef protects our shores from the impact of waves and from storms. They also help humans in the form of food and/or medicine. They also provide economic wealth to communities from tourism.

The World Meteorological Organization says that the reefs have more than $30 billion (U.S. dollars) in global goods and services.

The past few years, the reefs have seen many global threats increase.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature produced the “Red List of Threatened Species,” which highlights the species that are extinct, critically endangered, or vulnerable.

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is one of the most managed reefs in the world. In 2009, a report made by the Australian agency fears the future and that “catastrophic damage to the ecosystem may not be saved.”

The State of Coral Reefs Around the World says that 205 of the world’s coral reefs are destroyed and show no immediate prospect of recovery. Approximately 405 or 16% of the world’s reefs, were seriously damaged in 1998, and are either recovering well or have recovered. 60% of the earth’s coral reefs are threatened by just human activity. For more information about reef recovery statistics, please visit: globalissues.org

Some threats coral faces would be: bleaching (which is when the water temperatures increase), over fishing and over harvesting which disrupt the ecosystem of the reefs, boat anchors and divers can also scar the reef. Another thing is that invasive species, like the lionfish, can also caused a threat. Threats like lawn runoffs, sewage, cities, and farms all feed algae into the ocean, which can cause the reef to be overwhelmed according to  ocean.si.edu.

According to oceanservice.noaa.gov, there are 10 ways you can help protect the coral reefs:

1: Choose sustainable seafood.

2: Conserve water; the less water you use the less runoff and wastewater will find its way back to the ocean

3: Volunteer to help with local beach or a reef cleanup.

4: Corals are already a gift. Don’t give them as presents.

5: If you dive, don’t touch. Coral reefs are alive. Any stirred-up sediment can smother the corals.

6: Practice safe boating. Anchor in a sandy area away from coral and sea grasses so that the anchor chain doesn’t drag and damage nearby corals.

7: Don’t send chemicals into our waterways. Nutrients from excess fertilizer increases algae growth that blocks sunlight to corals.

8: Be a marine debris crusader. Besides picking up your own trash, carry away the trash that others have left behind.

9: Educate yourself about coral reefs and the creatures they support.

10: Long-lasting light bulbs are a bright idea. Light bulbs reduce greenhouse gases.

Coral reefs play a vital role in sustaining the health of our oceans and economy so it is in our best interest to protect them.

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