Coral are the rainforest of the ocean. Its reefs quickly create new species. The biodiversity of life on the reef is comparable to the multiplicity of life forms in the rainforests. There are 30 of 34 known animal phyla living on the reef. About 2800 species of fish are known to live in the reef region. Of the 500 or so species of reef building corals found throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans, about 350 are known to be on the Barrier Reef. It could be decades before scientists have a complete list of all the plants and animals found on any one reef. Many species are still to be identified and named. Preserving and nurturing the coral will protect the entire food chain and our web of life as we know it.
In the richest of all regions of coral reef development (central Indo-Pacific), a single acre of coral reef habitat may harbor many types of marine algae, hundreds of brightly hued fish species, and thousands of different kinds of invertebrate animals. Coral reefs are the largest living structure on the planet.
500 million years ago the first coral reef grew. Now the world’s coral reefs are in crisis
The economic importance of maintaining a healthy coral and pollution free coastal shoreline cannot be under estimated:
1. Coral reefs cover are home to 25% of all marine fish species.
2. 500 million people rely on coral reefs for their food and livelihoods.
3. Coral reefs form natural barriers that protect nearby shorelines from the eroding forces of the sea, thereby protecting coastal dwellings, agricultural land and beaches.
4. Coral reefs, protect parts of Florida from be submerged.
5. Medicines made coral have been used in the treatment of cancer, HIV, cardiovascular diseases and ulcers.
6. Corals’ porous limestone skeletons have been used for human bone grafts.
7. It is estimated that coral reefs provide $375 billion per year around the world in goods and services.
Threats to the world’s coral reefs include:
1. Pollution -waste products from gasoline and oil, trash, plastic, cans, bottles, cosmetics, human carelessness, agriculture waste run off
2. Disease – bacterial, white pox, band and rapid wasting disease, coral bleaching, shedding – a sick environment equals sick coral
3. Over-fishing -destroying the food chain by taking all the largest fish and other sea creatures
4. Dynamite and cyanide fishing especially in the Far East -Indonesia, Phillipines, Malasia, China, Japan
5. Sedimentation – muddy freshwater enters the sea by realizing that gaps in continuous fringing and offshore reefs faced the river mouths.
6. Bleaching caused by rising ocean temperatures from global warming
If the present rate of destruction continues:
a. 70% of the world’s coral reefs will be destroyed by the year 2050.
b. 25% of coral reefs have already disappeared and an estimated two-thirds of all coral reefs are at risk today.1
c. 88% of the reefs in Southeast Asia – the most species rich reefs on earth – are at risk.
d. Since 1975, more than 90% of the reefs in the Florida Keys have lost their living coral cover.
Only we can change this destruction
- Take care and help clean up the our streams, shores, ocean and all waterways.
- Decreasing our carbon footprint
- When diving being respectful of the environment and staying off the coral.
- Take pictures of coral for souvenirs.
- Refusing to buy fish that are harvested by in long lines, dynamiting or cynanide poisoning ( the last two methods are from the Far East).
- Recycle, reuse and take trash home for proper discard on land, lake , stream, the seashore or ocean.
Support organizations that are helping protect the coral reef and sealife. Get involved.
Coral reefs are a world treasure. Our economic and health depend on them staying healthy.
Excerpts courtesy of http://www.terradaily.com//Coral_reefs_quickly_create.html
Excerpts courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southeast_Asian_coral_reefs
Excerpts courtesy of http://www.barrierreefaustralia.com/great-barrier-reef-info2.html
Excerpts courtesy of http://www.nature.org/joinanddonate/rescuereef/explore/facts.html
Image courtesy of http://images.google.com/foodweb
Image courtesy of http://www.uncwil.edu/bio/images/JRPBahamasspongesandcoral.jpg