Coral reefs are like undersea cities, filled with colourful fish, intricate formations, and wondrous sea creatures.
However, the importance of coral reefs extends far beyond the pleasure it brings to those who explore it.
Coral reefs play an essential role in everything from water filtration and fish reproduction to shore line protection and erosion prevention. They provide an important ecosystem for life underwater; protecting coastal areas by reducing the power of waves hitting the coast and provide a crucial source of income for millions of people.
Coral reefs are some of the most diverse and valuable ecosystems on Earth. They support more species per unit area than any other marine environment, including about 4,000 species of fish, 800 species of hard corals and hundreds of other species!
Here are some amazing facts about coral reefs and how they help us!
1. A Barrier from Storms and Surge
Reefs play an important role in protecting the shoreline from storms and surge water. Barrier reefs help stabilize mangroves and seagrass beds, which can easily be uprooted by large waves and currents.
2. Fish Growth
As the foundation for complex food webs, coral reefs support an incredible diversity of fish. Algae, soft coral, sponges and invertebrates create the base of this web. Everything from lobsters and octopus to sea turtles and dolphins depend on the reef for food, habitat and protection.
By supporting such a wide range of plants and animals, reefs are able to maintain balanced relationships between predators and prey and organisms in competition for the same resources.
Fish and other marine life have been a primary source of protein for as long as people have lived along the coast. Over one million people on our planet rely on ocean life as their primary source of protein!
4. Water Filtration
Most corals and sponges are filter feeders, which means that they consume particulate matter suspended in the water column. This contributes to enhanced quality and clarity of our near shore waters.
Coral reefs often form the backbone of local economies.
Like any ecosystem, coral reefs can withstand and adapt to certain impacts. However, the combination of multiple stresses of global changes in ocean temperature and acidification, with local pressures such as ocean pollution, overfishing and declining water quality, has led to changes that could become irreversible within the next few decades.
The benefits of coral reefs are irrefutable. So, what can we do to protect and preserve coral reefs?
- Responsible Tourism: If you are planning on visiting a coral reef anytime soon, think about how you can be respectful during your trip.
- Conservation Efforts: There are many organizations around the world that dedicate their resources to preserving and conserving the world’s coral reefs.
- At Ocean Sole, we host weekly beach cleans that target these coastal areas. Become a virtual volunteer & donate towards keeping our coastlines clean!
- Reduce Pollution: Properly dispose of waste so that it doesn’t find its way into the ocean.
- Recycling: Be the example to the change you want to see in the world, especially when it comes to the environment. Start recycling at all times, even if it takes a little bit of extra effort.
- Responsible Diving: If you are planning on diving and checking out the coral reef, make a conscious effort not to touch any of the parts. The reefs are extremely delicate, and one mistake while touching them can cause serious damage. Take plenty of pictures, but stay a safe distance from the reef.
- Plant Trees: If you live near the ocean, consider planting a mangrove tree. Even if the tree is not right near the ocean, it will help reduce the runoff that goes into the water. Mangroves also help limit the increasing planet temperatures, which have a negative impact on the oceans and coral reefs.
Despite their importance, coral reefs are rapidly degrading and we need to act now if we are to adequately protect them. The reefs give us so much; it’s now time for us to give back!
Become a virtual volunteer & donate towards keeping our coastlines clean! Donate here!
Questions on what we do or how to get involved?
At Ocean Sole, we are a registered non-profit, whose mission is to clean polluted beaches and provide careers to Artisans in high-impact communities.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for custom projects, creative ideas, or just to see how to stay connected & get involved with our mission!
Written by: Maureen Simba