Friday, April 08th, 2011 | Author:

(Demonstrators protesting to protect coral reefs in Belize.)

Coral reefs, “the rainforests of the seas”, are very beneficial for humans and are necessary for the survival of marine life. So why are we (whether directly or indirectly) destroying them? And what can we do to stop harming these coral reefs? These are some of the thoughts that first pop into my mind when thinking about threatened coral reefs. On this wonderful website about coral reefs I found some answers to my questions.

First, I think it is important to discuss why we should care about coral reefs. According to NOAA, coral reef tourism, jobs, and food amounts to about $375 billion per year. Since coral reefs need specific living conditions to thrive (shallow depth, warm water, specific salinity), they tend to grow around tropical islands, many of whose economies rely heavily on tourism revenue. What will happen to these countries economies if all of a sudden their coral reefs (a major source of tourism profits) have died? Will less people take vacations to those countries? Those affected countries could lose billions of dollars a year as a result.

Besides coral reefs important economic value, we should also care because they are an intricate part of the marine food web. About 25% of fish take shelter in coral reefs, along with up to 2 million other species. Therefore, if most of the coral reefs in the ocean die, 2 million species would become displaced, and perhaps die. This would have a devastating effect on the food web. In turn, that would effect our fisheries (which we also discussed in class). We are already overfishing 75% of wild fish. If these wild fish (our food source) lose their food source (smaller fish, microorganisms, etc) because the coral reefs supporting those species have died, then the populations of wild fish we eat will take a sharp decline. (Which will be bad because they’re already in danger/overfished!)

In addition, coral reefs also protect shorelines by lessening the impact of storms and waves. While I could go on and on discussing more about coral reefs, I think the two points I made about why we should care about coral reefs are possibly the most important. Especially because it explains why coral reefs are important to us, therefore, governments and people can realize that it is in our best interests to preserve them!

-Kristen Callahan

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  1. Dr. Szulczewski says:

    I do think you made these points in a very convincing way.

  2. Kristen Callahan says:

    Thanks! I know I thought the first picture was so cool because it shows that people can truly make a difference and get their message out!

  3. Amanda Howland says:

    Great summarization about coral reefs and their two most important factors to us humans! I also really loved the very first picture on your post, it sends a great message all on its own. I too think it is very important in protecting and saving our coral reefs since they are very vital to the sea and to us as you mentioned.