Why They Need Help
By Olivia Cohn
“We know that when we protect our oceans we’re protecting our future.”
Coral reefs are referred to by scientists as “the rainforests of the sea” because although they cover less than 1% of the ocean floor, coral reefs are home to 25% of marine species (such as different types of turtles, algae, and fish). However, human actions have endangered coral reefs and all of the animals that live within them; many of which could become extinct, causing problems in the world’s food chains. Human actions have led scientists to predict that by 2030, 98% of reefs will be exposed to fatal conditions. We need to save the coral reefs.
Coral reefs help us in so many ways. First, 80% of our oxygen comes from the ocean! In order to breathe, we need to keep our ocean healthy. Second, the death of corals would result in a loss of money. Around 375 billion dollars annually would be spent towards local economies that rely on reefs. Third, reefs help tourism in certain countries and protect coastlines from flooding. Finally, they are home to over 4,000 species of fish and hundreds of other creatures.
However, giant heat waves, bleaching, diseases, overfishing, boats scraping the sea floor and greenhouse gases have caused more than half of our coral reefs to die in the last 30 years. Human activities have also had an impact on our reefs, for the ocean has absorbed 90% of fossil fuels that heat the planet. As our ocean warms, coral loses its color and its ability to produce food and preserve life.
Scientists across the globe are working hard to solve this pressing issue. Some are attempting to identify coral that is unharmed by heat and acidity. Others are attempting to breed super-corals in order to repopulate and sustain the coral in the ocean. However, with 50% of the world reefs expected to die off in the next few years, scientists must keep up.
As individuals, we can help save the coral reefs as well. We can donate to marine causes, avoid throwing trash or chemicals into the ocean, and participate in beach cleanups. Additionally, we can use some of the same strategies we use to help slow down global warming to save reefs. Let’s work together to save “the rainforests of the sea!”