Coral reefs matter: A coral reef in good health is like a busy underwater city, bustling with marine life, filled with colour, and offering rich pickings for roaming sea turtles, rays and sharks.
Coral reefs are part of a larger ecosystem that also includes mangroves and seagrass beds. Young marine animals spend time in the protective nursery grounds provided by these habitats before migrating to the reef. It is estimated that 25% of all marine life in the sea depend on these coral reef ecosystems.
We need coral reefs: It’s not just the marine life that benefits. The food, medicines, and livelihoods (e.g. tourism and fisheries) that we derive from coral reefs globally are worth US$300-400 billion each year. Reef structures also act as natural breakwaters, reducing the impacts of storms and waves on coastlines.
Unless we take action, the prognosis for coral reefs is bleak: With local pressures increasing, and seas becoming ever warmer (as a result of climate change) and more acidic (as a result of more and more carbon dioxide dissolving in sea water), it is estimated that only 10% of coral reefs can survive past 2050.
Unless we act now to prevent it, the loss of most of the world’s reefs will be a blow to biodiversity that we can’t afford, and one that will impact over 500 million people around the world who rely on reefs for food and income.