Coral Reefs are in danger

Tyee Arey

Effective killers of life have begun targeting one of most important ecosystems in existence today. Coral reefs are under attack from primarily man-made inventions, and without them, humanity would face a myriad of unwanted effects.

Coral reefs are made up of calcium carbonate, a chemical found in limestone. Calcium Carbonate is secreted by coral and forms a hard skeleton, which forms the structure of the reef. Reefs are created over thousands of years, and according to the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), they only grow “0.3 to 2 centimeters per year for massive corals” and “up to 10 centimeters per year for branching corals.”

Coral reefs are being destroyed by immense collection of enemies. Practically all major threats are created by man. The list below is a list of threats to coral reefs.

Global Warming: One major threat, common among life everywhere, is global warming. Coral can’t survive when the water temperature is too high. Coral reefs are gradually becoming more susceptible to high heat as global warming is not acted upon.

Fishing: A combination of destructive fishing practices and overfishing poses a large threat to coral reefs. Without fish, Coral reefs can’t get the nutrients and activities they need to survive.

Growing Starfish Population: Since the 1970’s, the government has been fighting against a species of starfish known as “crown of thorns starfish.” This species of starfish preys on coral, and, when concentrated, can destroy it faster than coral can grow. There have been four recorded “outbreaks” since the 1960’s and efforts to neutralize them range from manually removing it to injecting it with chemicals.

Pollution: Pollution has been an enemy of the ocean for decades, however among some of the common pollutants, there are unexpected consequences. Sewage, agricultural runoff and garbage all have terrible effects on marine life. However, fertilizers and sewage can increase the levels of nitrogen in the ocean, killing coral. The nitrogen serves as sustenance for nearby algae, and they begin to smother the coral due to the rise in food available.

Citizens: Citizens and government staffers have been combating death of coral reefs, but there are many examples of them unknowingly accelerating the process. Many water activities such as snorkeling, diving, and boating stir up sediment, gradually burying the coral. Dropping anchors, and breaking coral off for souvenirs also poses a threat. Construction has destroyed and buried coral reefs effectively as well.