Value of our CORAL REEFS
Why Marine Animals, People and Our Environment All Benefit
Considered the “Underwater Rainforests” of the ocean, coral reefs play a significant role in our lives. Not only do they protect coastal areas worldwide, but they are also an essential food source. Millions of people, as well as a large number of marine animals, depend on coral reefs. They provide shelter and protection for sea life, and are an important resource in the development of medicines. Also, vacationers flock to the reefs for recreational purposes, generating a significant source of tourist income for countries around the world.
Coral reefs are colonies of living animals that usually live in relatively shallow, warm waters near the equator, although some corals survive in cold, deep water. A wide variety of marine animals live on these corals, and scientists have been studying the relationships between these animals for years.
When we threaten our oceans and coral reefs, we threaten ourselves. Coral reefs serve as key indicators of our planet's health. Scientists are studying the effects of excess carbon dioxide in the oceans and how it is harming the reefs. Our coral reefs are being harmed by overfishing as well as by the dumping of plastics, chemicals and oils onto them. Did you know...
- Over 100,000 marine mammals and 1,000,000 sea birds are killed each year by becoming entangled in plastic or ingesting plastic (source: www.savemyoceans.com)
- It takes between 500 to 1000 years for plastic to degrade (source: www.savemyoceans.com)
- Almost every piece of plastic ever made still exists today (source: www.planetvarner.com)
- The world's annual consumption of plastic is 100 million tons (source: www.planetvarner.com)
- 80% of all pollution in the seas and oceans comes from land-based activities (source: www.savethesea.org)
Coral reefs play a vital role in our lives in many ways. They serve as important indicators of the health of our oceans as well as of our planet. In many ways, coral reefs are a direct reflection of how we care for ourselves. With the continued challenges that the reefs are facing, people have become inspired to learn more about environmental issues affecting them, and are taking action to protect the reefs. Slowly, we are coming to realize that by caring for coral reefs we are protecting the ecological health of our planet now and for years to come. Much more needs to be done, and it starts with the education of our children. It is my hope that you will be inspired to study, explore, and become protectors of this fantastic underwater world.