Coral reefs need our serious attention. Termed the "rainforests of the sea", coral reefs are home to one of every four marine species and are vital to maintaining the biological diversity of ocean ecosystems.
These ecosystems are the oldest most productive on earth. Aside from their environmental importance, coral reefs are extremely important to local economies, tourism, fishing industries, human health and more. Yet we are suffering the loss of this vast resource at an alarming rate.
Scientists estimate approximately 25% of the world's coral reefs are already destroyed. If current trends continue, we risk losing this resource entirely within the next 30-50 years. But the situation isn't hopeless. There is still so much we can do to preserve these colorful undersea gardens for future generations.
Sedimentation from coastal development and unwise land-use policies cause soil erosion inducing coral stress and blocking light necessary for coral growth.
Run-off from cropland and animal feed lots introduce excessive amounts of fertilizers and untreated sewage to reef environments. These nutrients slow growth rates, reduce light and water flow to coral surfaces, and induce coral bleaching (a stress response causing corals to turn white and eventually die)
Destructive Fishing Practices:
Destructive fishing practices, such as the use of reef killing poisons like cyanide, explosives, and fishing devices reduce coral reef ecosystems to lifeless rubble every day.
Pollution from oil, petroleum products, untreated sewage and marine debris often poison and injure coral reef life.
Lost or Discarded Fishing Nets
Lost or discarded fishing nets (ghost nets) entangle thousands of fish and mammals and suffocate reefs.
Poorly conceived coastal development destroys vital ecosystems such as mangrove forests and sea grass beds which serve as nursery grounds for many reef inhabitants.