Four Things to Remember on Reef Awareness Day
Sea turtles, starfish, mollusks, oh my! Called the rainforests of the seas, coral reefs support a diversity of marine life; however, many reefs are being damaged, and marine species are losing their homes. You can help save life under the sea by keeping these things in mind.
1. Threats to Reefs Stem from Humans
Human actions have led to the destruction of coral reefs across the ocean.
- Coastal development
- Destructive fishing methods
- Harvesting for jewelry, souvenirs, and aquarium trade
- Destruction from tourism 2. When a Reef is Damaged, It Is Not Able to Recover Quickly
Reefs can take at least a decade to recover from damages, or even longer. Large reefs, such as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, take several thousand years to grow to their massive size. The Great Barrier Reef, famous for its biodiversity and tourism opportunities, is the largest living organism on the plant and is Earth’s biggest reef system. However, this vital ecosystem has taken a lot of damage and it continues to try to heal as it has for the past twenty years. Its condition is sadly deteriorating, and the reef has lost over half its population in the past thirty years.
3. Humans Benefit from Reefs, Too!
Reefs provide many benefits to both marine life and humans. Reefs act as barriers from storm surges, help manage carbon dioxide, and house medically important species that can be used to help fight diseases. Without reefs, a major portion of the food sources provided by the oceans would have nowhere to live or repopulate, and the health of the waters would suffer.
4. You Can Help.
- Dispose of waste properly, no littering.
- Reduce stormwater runoff
- Minimize fertilizer, pesticide, and herbicide usage.
- Do not touch a reef or its carol
- Use reef-safe sunscreen.
Written by Erin Hickle, Communications Intern