Before we jump into Why Coral Reefs Matter to Us? Let’s see what coral reefs are! So, are you ready to dive into the deepest trench of the oceans and discover the vibrant and fascinating corals?
So what are these marvelous coral reefs?
The tropical coral reefs are one of the most ecologically diverse and splendid ecosystems in the world, rivaled only by the vast rainforests. Coral is a common term used to describe various types of cnidarian.
Some grow as individual colonies; so, not all reefs are produced by corals and not all corals produce reefs.
So how are they important to us? Let’s find out!
What is the Significance of Coral Reefs?
Coral reefs are oases in the watery deserts. They are also known as tropical rainforests of the oceans. About 8,000 species of fish, 800 species of hard and soft corals, and hundreds of other organisms like sponges, clams, shrimps, snails, squid, octopuses, jellyfish, sea anemones are inhabited in the coral reefs.
Scientists evaluate that there may be over a million undiscovered species living in and around the reefs. We can find thousands of species living on one reef.
The Great Barrier Reef contains over 411 hard forms of coral and ⅓ of the planet’s soft coral species, 1,500 fish breeds, 4,000 mollusk species, and six of the world’s threatened sea turtle species. 134 species of sharks and manta rays, and beyond 30 stunning species of marine mammals.
Wow! Isn’t it amazing? So are corals only home to diverse species? There’s a lot more to find out yet. Let’s discover by diving in more deep!
Coral reefs are not only home to a million discovered and undiscovered species but they have an interesting significance in various aspects too. Let’s learn a little more about their importance!
Fish and other oceanic life have been a major source of food since humans have settled on the shore. From small-scale commercial fisheries to major commercial groups, the collection of marine life has a major economic impact on the world’s oceans.
Of the 9,700 miles of United States coastlines, our waters contain over 90% of the world’s marine life, according to National Geographic. Americans rely on this abundance of ocean life to provide seafood for us at restaurants, in seafood markets, in fish markets, and on the plate.
From local fisheries, such as lobsters, stone crab, to tunas, dolphins and other pelagic species rely on reefs for spawning and habitat.
Coral Reefs Are Water Filters
Most corals and sponges act as filters and purify particulate matter and pollutants, which leads to crystal clear and enhanced quality and clarity of our near-shore waters.
Economic Development and Impact on Human life
Coral reefs form the backbone of local economies. From tourism to protecting the coastlines, coral reefs play an important role.
- Tourists need dive guides and boats to explore the underwater and hotels, restaurants, and entertainment facilities for stays.
- The development of various drugs extracted from coral reef animals and plants can be potential cures for cancer, human bacterial infections, viruses, arthritis, and other deadly diseases.
- The National Marine Fisheries Service estimated a $100 million commercial value of U.S. fisheries from corals.
- Coral reefs have been estimated to provide a global value of about £6 trillion annually, contributing to coastal protection, fishing, and tourism.
- Coral reefs act as a natural barrier against 97% of the energy produced by waves, floods, and tsunamis, thus protecting the coastlines from severe damage.
- Over 500 million people depend on reefs for their jobs, food, and protection.
So coral reefs are a boon for humans, aren’t they? They are so astounding!
But there’s a miserable part, the coral reefs are in great danger!
Current State of Coral reefs
The awful truth revealed…
Climate change and global warming have made a tremendous impact on the planet, due to which the temperature of ocean waters is rising. Thus, leading to coral bleaching of the vivid coral reefs. The reefs are being degraded because of overfishing, climate change, oceanic pollution, etc. which is affecting their ecological state.
The Great Barrier Reef has already lost its half coral and others have lost almost over 90%. An insignificant rise is recorded in oceanic acidification resulting in a mass level of coral reefs dying.
Here’s a report from the Reef Resilience Network about the current situation of coral reefs.
The worst-case scenario…
What would happen if they would no longer be around?
Marine life would perish
If coral reefs go extinct, over 25% of marine life will lose its habitat, resulting in the disappearance of a million species from small organisms to fishes, turtles, dolphins, etc. The marine biodiversity will completely suffer and die. The survival of marine life depends on reefs as it is their habitat and the source of their food. Marine life will completely perish. Coral reefs also play a vital role in the production of oxygen, hence the oceans will turn acidic because of the loss of oxygen.
But there’s something just more than the marine organisms losing their home.
Loss of jobs and deflation of the economy
Over a billion people depend on coral reefs and marine resources for their food and income. This will cause a catastrophic degradation of global value and tremendous loss of economy. Also, a shortage of jobs and sea-food depletion would cause pressure on land-farming fields. The Livelihood of a billion people will be destroyed. Local businesses and tourism will be highly affected.
Loss of coastal protection and human life
As you read coral reefs act as natural barriers, depletion of them would cause a heavy loss of human life. Over 200 million people depend on reefs for coastal protection and safeguard. Without them, the shorelines and coasts would be unguarded and vulnerable to soil erosion, floods, and tsunamis. Soon the coastal areas and islands will be submerged underwater.
Many islands will be underwater. Just like the lost city of Atlantis! Andaman and Nicobar have already lost their islands, which are now entirely submerged underwater.
The corals are also medicinal chests of the oceans. We can gain a lot of medicines and ailments from the plants and animals inhabited in corals. Thus depletion of coral reefs will not only affect marine life but also human health. Research of various medicines and treatments will be stopped and there will be an outbreak of deadly diseases.
These facts are frightening, aren’t they? Without corals, the world would go underwater just as in the movie 2012. Are you afraid?
Don’t worry, we still can save our planet and ourselves from drowning? Want to know how? Let’s see!
Coral reefs are one of the most important and valuable ecosystems gifted to this planet. We just read how they play a vital role in supporting marine and human life.
Also, the extinction of corals is equivalent to the extinction of marine life and humans.
It’s really scary, isn’t it? The coral reefs will not only perish but also will humans. It’s prime time we realize and work to bring corals back to life.
Restoration of corals is very important, and scientists all over the world have started research and work to restore one of the beautiful ecosystems of the planet.
That’s amazing! Yes, we have a chance to protect and save our planet and the entire human race. We need to take care of our actions and let them live, they’ll take care of the rest.
“Don’t be a thief, save coral reefs.”