Why are coral reefs so important to protect?
Nicole Condon, ReefCam Scientific Projects Coordinator
August 19, 2013
ReefCam is committed to raising awareness, funding, and coordinating education programs for reef conservation in schools by donating 25% of all proceeds directly back to research and conservation.
Why do we do this?
Coral reefs are one of the most diverse and important ecosystems on the planet. They cover less than one percent of the seafloor, but contain one quarter of the ocean’s biodiversity! Coral reefs directly affect ocean systems, human populations, and shorelines around the globe; having an important impact well beyond the boundaries of the reefs themselves.
Coral reefs are the nurseries and feeding grounds for thousands of species. These species then travel to, and live in, other areas of the world’s oceans. If these areas are disrupted or destroyed, the species that make the reefs their permanent home will not be the only ones affected. It will have a chain effect that will disrupt countless numbers of transient species who visit reefs during their lifetime.
Reefs don’t just provide food for other marine organisms. They also provide local island and ocean side communities with their predominant source of protein. Millions of people rely on healthy reefs to provide food. Not only that, but reefs have become intertwined with local tradition and culture. The health of reefs can be linked to the health of local communities.
Reefs provide millions of jobs and billions of dollars in income around the world with fishing, ecotourism, and medical advancements. Many countries with reefs generate a significant portion of their income through tourism. The destruction of reefs can lead to the loss of jobs related to tourism, recreational fishing, and water activities that drive local communities.
Reefs provide a natural buffer that protects ocean side communities and beaches, decreasing the potential effects of wave action, storms, and erosion. This saves coastal communities millions of dollars every year by reducing building damage, beach erosion, and the destruction of desirable coastline.
Much like tropical rainforests, coral reefs are treasure troves of potential medical advancements. Many unique properties and organisms found on coral reefs are used in medicines, and may hold the secrets to many more potential treatments. A significant portion of new drug development research focuses on marine organisms. With so many unique species of plants and animals found no where else in the world, coral reefs need to be protected for the shear potential that they hold.
What we do to help:
• Support local tourism and economic growth
• Create a tool for further scientific study of reef ecosystems
• Provide additional security and monitoring at the reefs
• Promote education and coordinate coral reef research around the world
When exploring coral reefs, snorkeling is one of the best (and most inexpensive) ways to explore shallow areas! While taking care not to touch or stand on corals, you need to also take care of yourself. Speaking from experience, take the time to slather up and cover up before jumping in! Keeping your back in the water and exposed to sunlight for extended periods of time can have painful consequences! If you are eco conscious, try using natural sunscreens that won’t add harmful chemicals to the water. Alternatively, cover up with water friendly clothing! Wet suits and rash guards are a great way to stay warm and keep the sunburns at bay!