Coral Reef Endangerment to Extinction

Vanessa Elizondo

       Coral reefs, the most biodiverse and productive ecosystems on Earth.  They inhabit less than 1% of the ocean floor, yet are homes to more than a quarter of all marine species.  Coral reefs are colonies of discrete animals called polyps, which are related to sea anemones.

      Coral reefs are endangered by a collection of factors, being: natural phenomena occurrences such as El Niño, and diseases; local threats essentially as overfishing, ruinous fishing techniques, coastal enlargement, pollution, and negligent tourism; and the global effects of climate change.  As stated by “Reefs at Risk Revisited,” a report by the World Resources Institute, 75% of the world’s coral reefs are in danger from local and global tension.  About a quarter of them have already been blemished afar repair.  If this continues, 90% of coral reefs will be jeopardized by 2030, and practically all of them by 2050.  The proportion of coral species in each reef varies: The Great Barrier Reef off Australia has more than 600 species of coral while a Caribbean has approximately 65.  Today many reefs have 40% to 50% less coral than they did 30 years ago.  Pollution from land, as well as hot water releases from plants, pathogens, trash, marine activities, such as fuel leaks and oil spills, moreover endanger coral reefs. 

     While corals overheat, they respond to the stress by dismissing their algae, which creates coral bleaching.  Bleaching leaves corals unguarded to diseases, stunts their growth, affects their reproduction, and can clash with other species.  During the 1997-1998  El Niño, universal and drastic coral reef bleaching ensued in the Indo-Pacific region and the Carribean, killing 16% of the world’s coral reef in 12 months.  

     Coral reefs furnish us with food, constructive material, and new medicines.  There must be a way to save them!  Which is why some scientists are studying types of coral that can alter to warmer ocean temperatures and survive bleaching, and using this information to “instruct” corals to adapt to warmer acidic water. The coral restoration foundation shelters and reinstates coral reefs through designing nurseries and transplanting corals into reef restoration sites. Concerned individuals can become citizen scientists and observe corals at restoration sites. Thus anyone can play a part in swotting and caring for the endangered coral reefs.