The Importance of Coral Reefs

In the long run we’ll preserve solely what we love; we’ll love solely what we perceive; and we’ll perceive solely what we’re taught.~ Baba Dioum

Whether or not you are a scuba diver or not, it is virtually inevitable that you’ve got heard speak about saving the coral reef rug. At the same time as a scuba diver, it is attainable you have dismissed these notions. It is attainable you suppose the menace is overstated or that the screeches you hear are from hen littles or ‘tree-huggers’. It is also attainable that you do not actually perceive why it issues within the first place. They’re only a bunch of coral, proper? I imply, as a diver they’re fairly to take a look at, however they could not actually be that huge of a deal, proper?


Please first perceive that I am not the kind to latch onto bandwagons or search for doom and gloom to evangelise at uninterested of us. I do analysis earlier than forming an opinion and even then I am leery about hopping onto a soapbox. I do not wish to be a naysayer; I do not wish to attempt to take away anybody’s enjoyable. However I additionally do not wish to reside in a world with out coral reefs, and I daresay neither do you. To be trustworthy, I am not even certain we may. But, that finish result’s an actual chance.

I am not going to enter element concerning the zoology of corals for that requires method an excessive amount of Latin for my tastes. Let’s suffice it to say that corals colonies are the biggest organic constructions on earth. They’re distinctive and sophisticated communities many 1000’s of years within the making. So what do they do and why are they essential? I do know I definitely are likely to zone out when issues get too science-y so I’ll attempt to maintain this temporary and non-technical within the hopes of holding the eye of extra individuals.

Dwelling to tens of millions

To begin with, coral reefs are residence to 25% of all marine fish species. Let’s pause right here and let that sink in. Twenty-five p.c. One quarter of all the species of fish within the oceans name a coral reef their residence. This quantity is much more astounding while you perceive that reefs cowl lower than 1% of the Earth’s floor. The reefs present meals, shelter, and safety for grownup and younger marine life. They’re breeding grounds, cleansing stations, nurseries, napping lounges, buffets, sleeping quarters, singles bars, and hiding locations for numerous animals each predator and prey. So, there are a number of fish and different animals that may be homeless and/or lifeless with out the reefs.

CO2 Regulation

Coral reefs regulate the carbon dioxide ranges within the oceans by turning the CO2 into limestone (which ultimately turns into our seashores). With out their efforts, the CO2 ranges within the oceans would attain unsustainable ranges; ranges approaching what we’re seeing now, as a matter of reality. Proper now we’re in a vicious and detrimental cycle the place we have now unapologetically destroyed greater than 1 / 4 of the reefs within the oceans (by some estimates a 3rd), impacting and elevating the CO2 ranges, which in flip harms and kills much more coral reefs. So long as this cycle continues, the coral reefs and related fisheries will proceed to die. Because the coral dies, so do the fisheries supported by them. Because the CO2 ranges enhance, extra fish are impacted and killed and much more fisheries are affected, even these indirectly related to coral reefs. There’s a chain within the ocean and we’re within the means of actively breaking a hyperlink in that chain.

Meals and Livelihood

As a result of so many fish and different animals name the reefs their residence, over 500 million individuals instantly depend on coral reefs for meals and livelihood. These are simply the numbers instantly affected, they do not embody the tens of millions who’re not directly affected as a consequence of financial system and tourism. A big portion of individuals in wealthy coastal areas depend on fish as their main supply of protein – fish supported by coral reefs. We have already got a tough time feeding the individuals of the world now, if coral reefs die that job will change into much more troublesome and the chain response might be devastating.

Coastal Safety

Reefs shield tens of millions of {dollars} price of property alongside coastlines, shield harbors, and seashores, helpful ecosystems similar to mangroves and seagrass meadows, and provide some safety from damaging tropical storms. Coastal erosion and flooding are minimized which helps scale back lack of property and the necessity to construct our personal synthetic defenses. Simply have a look at the earlier than and after Hurricane Sandy to see how a lot erosion can occur with only one storm.


Medicines to deal with bronchial asthma, arthritis, most cancers, and lots of anti-virals and anti-inflammatories have come from the coral reefs. The biodiversity current in a single coral reef opens the doorways to numerous prospects for medical remedies and developments. On the subject of such developments, some say that we’re a whole lot of instances extra more likely to discover the solutions within the ocean than on the land. Shedding the reefs throws these prospects away.

I am not going to take a seat right here and predict with wild abandonment that if the reefs die, so will the human race. However I’ll go as far as to say that is not an altogether not possible situation even whether it is, for my part, somewhat bit far fetched. It is fairly attainable that the oceans would get well and adapt, and so would we. It is fairly attainable that just a few million of us would starve, numerous marine life can be misplaced endlessly, and indescribable magnificence can be destroyed however that we’d proceed to limp alongside. The factor is, do we actually wish to discover out what is going to occur? As soon as the reefs are gone, they’re gone. It will not be the top of the world, however it definitely can be the top of one thing great, historical, wealthy, and lifegiving. We might, surely, really feel the consequences of it everywhere in the world for a few years to come back.

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