Saving the Corals and Coral Reefs

Today, with rapid destruction of the coral reefs, it is time you take a breather from your busy schedule and know how you can make a difference. Saving the corals and the coral reefs can be achieved even if you are miles away from the coastal line. Here are some ways you can use to help the environment.

Coral reefs are facing many threats by mankind. Sometimes humans cause intentional and even unintentional damage to the corals and the coral reefs without ever realizing the effects of the actions. Corals are a substance that is constituted from the remains of the polyps. One can generally find two kinds of corals beneath the sea- hard coral and the soft coral. The millions of coral polyp shells form the structure of the coral reef. The coral reef is composed not only of the millions of such structures but it also houses living organisms like algae, sponges, marine plants, fish etc.

Zooxanthellae is a kind of an algae that lives inside the corals. These are very essential for the survival of the coral reefs. They also add to the beauty of the corals, as zooxanthellae are also responsible for the attractive color of the corals. Even the common seaweeds are important to the corals as they provide the food through the process of photosynthesis.

Coral reefs can only thrive in a congenial environment. They need ample sunlight; narrow range of the temperature of the water and the salinity of the water should be around 34-37 parts per thousand. Shallow waters are the areas where we see these reefs thrive successfully, as the algae need to perform the photosynthesis. This is definitely not possible in deeper waters.

What is leading to the destruction of these coral reefs?

Man plays the major role in this case. Nature also has her own part to play. Sometimes, the hurricanes and such storms destroy a major portion of these reefs. A lot of marine animals such as the starfish even eat into the corals. The prime destruction of the coral reefs has been due to mankind. Global warming and the increase of pollution levels have created a lot of damage to these reefs.

The unhealthy fishing habits of humans are one of the prime reasons for the damage caused. There are many areas that still use an illegal process of blast fishing (Explosives that are sent into the coral reefs) and this causes harm to not only the coral reefs but also the other living organisms around. Fishermen also employ the use of spears and sometimes, it is this excess fishing that creates an imbalance in the natural food chain. Cyanide fishing is also another harmful practice employed by fishermen. Here the divers squeeze the cyanide into the crevices of the reefs. This in turn, stuns the fish making them an easier prey to the humans.

The increase in the pollution levels are also a prime concern to scientists all over the globe. Pollution affects the reefs in many ways one can ever imagine. For example, oil spills pollutes the water, which in turn enters the reefs through the corals. Once the polyps are affected, the entire reef faces damage. Waste products and the dumping of these in the seawater have contaminated the oceans. This can sometimes result in the over growth of algae. An excess of algae covering the reef causes the lesser intake of oxygen. The increase in the levels of the carbon dioxide in the water has made the coral structures weaker. This makes the reef more vulnerable.

The coral reefs are home to many other marine animals. They also are a major source of food. Humans need to understand while purchasing coral souvenirs, that these are also a major cause of the damage being caused to the coral reefs. Tourism has had a devastating effect on the coral reefs as these are being stripped of their natural cover to satisfy the increasing greed of the human race.

Global warming has now resulted in the rising temperatures of the ocean waters. Corals need lower temperatures for their food process. Any changes in the climate cause a loss of the algae covering the reefs. When the algae are unable to produce food from the process of photosynthesis, the reefs have to face ‘coral bleaching’. The coral bleaching is evident when the major area of the reefs turns white in color.

Saving the Corals and the Coral Reefs:

You can make a difference to the environment with every step you take. The coral reefs and Mother Earth would benefit largely if you follow some of these simple steps listed below:
When you operate a boat, ensure you have checked the engine equipment to avoid oil and gas spills. Also navigate the boat carefully to prevent any damage to the reefs.
When you go to your favorite restaurant for sumptuous seafood delights, ensure you avoid those items that are caught through illegal practices and usage of illegal equipment.
Try to use the public transport available or find other alternatives to travel (carpool) that would help in reducing the levels of pollution.
Be aware of the usage of water. Water is precious so use every drop with care. This is very important, as the less usage of water will reduce the amount of wastewater being dumped into our oceans.
When you feel the need to snorkel or scuba dive, ensure the authenticity of the operators. Make sure you gather information about them and know if they are aware and care for the coral reefs and the measures they undertake to preserve it. Most operators are out to make a quick buck so ensure you support only those people who are aware of their responsibilities towards the sea.
Plant a tree to reduce the rising temperatures caused by global warming.
As a tourist, you must be completely aware to avoid giving encouragement to those outlets that sell illegal souvenirs. There is only one way to put an end to this practice- Stop buying such souvenirs.
You too can help in the clean up of the coastal line. Avoid littering the beaches and support local groups that are actively involved in these causes.
Remember, you alone can make a difference. Every effort from your side can go a long way in saving the coral reefs.

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