Fish have homes too. The may not have plumbing or electrical, but their homes are special. Fish and other ocean creatures live in coral reefs. They decorate the seafloor and provide a diverse ecosystem. Reefs are made up of several groups of coral, which is a tiny living organism that has a huge role in the health of the ocean. Many people think that reefs are inanimate beings, but they are alive, and benefit more than just marine life. It may seem abstract, but coral reefs are not only beneficial to ocean creatures. Humans depend on coral reefs for medicines, fishing sights, and of course tourism.
Scientists have developed medicines from resources found in coral reefs. Some have been known to treat tumors, arthritis, and treat types of cancers. These are serious ailments that were previously difficult to treat. Who knew coral would be the solution? Researchers are continuing to study other health benefits coral can provide, including anti-tumor treatments (Levins). These organisms have provided us with cures for things we never thought we would conquer. Reefs have eased human suffering and saved lives.
Reefs are home to various species of fish and countries depend on these sights for fishing. According to the NOAA, fishing in coral reefs brings in a quarter of the overall catch in countries that are still developing. That is food for millions of people. Without a home, fish will seek refuge elsewhere and these countries would have a harder time feeding their people.
Most people have heard of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and the beautiful reefs that decorate the Hawaiian Coast. Places are famous for the reefs in their area. This ecosystem welcomes a variety of creatures like clown fish, sharks, and sea turtles. The perfect spots for scuba divers or snorkelers! Because of this coral reef can be worth millions of dollars. According to The Nature Conversancy, coral reefs draw in about 36 billion dollars a year, globally, in tourism. People arrive in droves to spend money on scuba trips to the reefs. This money is vital for maintaining a healthy coral reef which costs about a million dollars per year (Coral Reef Alliance). If the reef’s health is impacted negatively so is the community. People will lose jobs and tourism will decrease causing a decrease in a destinations income. Tourist spots are kept up with the income raked in by reefs and without them, people may lose interest in traveling.
Threats to Coral Reefs
While we reap the benefits of coral reefs we also need to be aware of the threats they are susceptible to. It is predicted that 90% of reefs around the world will be threatened by 2030 (Earth Share). Things like water pollution and overfishing hurt the reefs but most of the time, humans cause the threats. Coral can be trampled by inexperienced people or broken by visitors who seek to touch it (Reef Resilience). Here are some ways you can help coral reefs:
- Look, don’t touch: If you visit a reef it is important to remember that it is a living thing. Touching the reef can stress it out and cause parts of it to die. Pieces may break off when touched. Remember that this is someone’s home. You don’t want to damage it in any way. Leave it the way you found it.
- Coral is not a present: People often take pieces from the reef to decorate their homes or gift to someone else but think about it. Millions of people visit reefs each year. If everyone took a piece there would be nothing left for the creatures who live there. We want to preserve these precious creations for as long as we can. There are plenty of local businesses that require the support of tourism to thrive. Better to purchase a snow globe, than to damage a home.
- Boating- Ships and boats can harm coral as well. Anchors claw into reefs and most people don’t realize this is damaging. If you are a boater be sure to anchor away from the reefs. Try to avoid sailing through them.
- Take pictures: Taking pictures of these underwater worlds is a good way to preserve the memories and interest others. Others who see these works of art will want to keep them beautiful and thriving.
- Educate: Learn more about reefs so you can spread the word to others! Few people know about the benefits of reefs. By inspiring education, we inspire appreciation for the world around us, and a want to protect it!
Overall, just be aware of the world you are entering. We must treat the environment with respect. Coral reefs are a precious gift that provides humans with many resources in medicine, and fishing. They bring in billions of dollars that benefit the community as well. The world would certainly miss them if they vanished! Just like any other creature in the ocean, they deserve our appreciation. By protecting our ocean we ensure the health of reefs we as well as the homes of thousands of species. A healthy ocean will keep coral beautiful!
“Coral Reefs: Treasures of the Ocean in Danger.” Earth Share. 13 May 2013. Web 8 Dec. 2017.
“Coral Reef Tourism is worth $36 Billion to the Travel Industry and Host Nations Every Year” The Nature Conservancy. 22 May 2017. Web. 8 Dec. 2017.
“Importance of Coral Reefs.” NOAA. 6 July 2017. Web. 8 Dec. 2017.
Levins, Nicole. “Coral reefs could hold the cures for some of the human race’s most common—and serious—ailments.” The Nature Conservancy. Web. 8 Dec. 2017.
“Tourism.” Coral Reef Alliance. Web. 8 Dec. 2017.
“Tourism and Recreational Impacts.” Reef Resilience. Web. 8 Dec. 2017.