What Are Corals
Corals are a part of the animal phylum Cnidaria and are commonly categorized into seven categories Small polyp stony corals, Large polyp stony corals, Soft corals, Mushrooms, Sea fans, Hydro-corals and Polyp corals. These corals can be hard or soft and form colonies of coral polyps which are relatives of sea anemones and jellyfish. Coral polyps have the ability to extract calcium from seawater turning it into limestone providing shelter externally. Some corals can convert this calcium pulled from the water to internal shelters of limestone creating soft corals. When these corals group together they form what we would call a coral reef emitting a beautiful garden of colors and diverse livestock in shallow waters around the world.
The Role They Play To Marine Life
Coral Reefs contain the highest biodiversity in the world. Marine life use coral reefs as a place to spawn and to feed and also providing shelter or protection to Oysters, Clams, Grouper, Scallops, snapper and many other fish and invertebrates. There are many fish and invertebrates that form a symbiotic relationship with corals in order to survive. This allows the Fish, Invertebrate and Coral higher chances of spawning and survival from predators. Coral reefs support an estimated 25% of marine life with over 5,000 species of fish alone. It is safe to say that coral reefs play a huge role in the sustainability, diversity and growth of marine life on our oceans.
The Role They Play For Us
Coral reefs must be protected as they play a vital role in the lives of over 500 Million people who depend on them for Food, Jobs and Recreation. Coral reefs economically have an impact of over 375 billion a year(Source IUCN corals). Without coral reefs the worlds fish industry which employs over 38 Million people worldwide would collapse. Keep in mind that coral is considered the medicine cabinet of the 21st century providing new sources to treat arthritis, cancer , human bacterial infections, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, viruses, and other diseases. In the near future, coral reef ecosystems could represent an increasingly important source of medical treatments, nutritional supplements, pesticides, cosmetics, and other commercial products. Coral reefs play a huge role in the world!
- Protection: Provides a natural barrier for cities communities and beaches
- Food: Main food source for people near islands and reefs
- Income: Billion in revenue and millions of jobs to many countries around the world
- Medicine: Very high potential for cures for many illnesses and diseases
- Habitat: Provides home for thousands of marine life
How Can You Help?
11 EASY STEPS TO HELP PROTECT CORAL REEFS
Do you want to make a difference every day? Want to learn about simple, effective actions you can take to help save coral reefs and the fish, animals, and plants that depend on them?
- Conserve water: The less water you use, the less runoff and waste water will pollute our oceans.
- Help reduce pollution: Walk, bike or ride the bus. Fossil fuel emissions from cars and industry raise lead to ocean warming which causes mass-bleaching of corals and can lead to widespread destruction of reefs.
- Research what you put on your lawn: Although you may live thousands of miles from a coral reef ecosystem, these products flow into the water system, pollute the ocean, and can harm coral reefs and marine life.
- Dispose of your trash properly: Don’t leave unwanted fishing lines or nets in the water or on the beach. Any kind of litter pollutes the water and can harm the reef and the fish.
- Support reef-friendly businesses: Ask the fishing, boating, hotel, aquarium, dive or snorkeling operators how they protect the reef. Be sure they care for the living reef ecosystem and ask if the organization responsible is part of a coral reef ecosystem management effort.
- Plant a tree: Trees reduce runoff into the oceans. You will also contribute to reversing the warming of our planet and the rising temperatures of our oceans.
- Practice safe and responsible diving and snorkeling: Do not touch the reef or anchor your boat on the reef. Contact with the coral will damage the delicate coral animals, and anchoring on the reef can kill it, so look for sandy bottom or use moorings if available.
- Volunteer for a coral reef cleanup: You don’t live near a coral reef? Then do what many people do with their vacation: visit a coral reef. Spend an afternoon enjoying the beauty of one of the most diverse ecosystems on the Earth.
- Contact your government representatives: Demand they take action to protect coral reefs, stop sewage pollution of our oceans, expand marine protected areas and take steps to reverse global warming.
- Spread the word: Remember your own excitement at learning how important the planet’s coral reefs are to us and the intricate global ecosystem. Share this excitement and encourage others to get involved.
- Buy Aquacultured Corals: Purchasing aqua cultured corals for your aquarium reduces the need for commercial harvesting of corals for the aquarium trade. Do your research or contact your coral provider to make sure your coral is aqua cultured.