Coral Conservation

Coral Bleaching

We think of coral reefs as an abundance of color and marine life but they are acutely sensitive to increases in sea temperatures. This causes corals to expel the algae that they live in symbiotic harmony with, and as a result, they change color to white and die, a process called coral bleaching. Around 70% of the world’s coral reefs were badly affected by heat stress during 2014 and 2017.

Clean Oceans

Ultimately, everything drifts down to the oceans, and this includes plastics. 8 million tonnes of plastics are leaking into our oceans every year! Mass production and consumption has led to massive use of single use plastics with little regard for it’s impact on the environment as well as poor infrastructure for recycling in developing countries has create a huge crisis for our oceans.

We are now finding micro plastics inside hundreds of species of marine species not to mention large marine animals being found dead having ingested plastic waste. We need to rapidly change our attitude towards waste while we still have a chance to save our oceans.

Education

In places like the coral triangle, education is vitally important so that local communities have the skills necessary to manage their precious marine resources in a way that ensures they can sustain into the future. Access to good education in this part of the world is a really important way to promote awareness of the need for marine conservation in the communities.

Young people, no matter whether they live near coral reefs or not, need to understand the delicate balance of marine life and how our behaviours lead to rising sea temperatures, acidification, and harmful pollutants can all destroy them.

In addition to access to educational opportunities and good teachers, integration of activities such as beach cleanups and field trips in local curriculum are important ways to build awareness of conservation issues for local children.

Pollution

We have all seen footage of oil tankers and marine disasters where pollutants spill into delicate marine ecosystem, such as on the New Caledonia reef in 2018. But, pollutants can also come from engine fuel, most of the sun screen lotions used by holidaymakers are handful to coral and of course microplastics which permeate invisibly down through the food chain in marine ecosystems.

Tackling pollution at its source is the only way to prevent it destroying fragile marine life which is unable to cope with such toxic chemicals.

Food Security

The food and agriculture organisation of the United Nations defines food security as when “all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritions food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”

With coral reefs threatened by unsustainable fishing practices as well as warming oceans, food and income security for the 500 million people dependent on coral reefs is a major challenge.

This makes the need for coral conservation, coral recovery where needed and the careful management of fisheries by local communities the crucial aspects of safeguarding marine biodiversity.

Marine Protected Areas

Only a very small percentage of the world’s oceans are protected, that is that they are carefully managed, the sources of food they provide maintained and their biodiversity protected in order to safeguard income and jobs for local communities. Marine Protected Areas, according to the WWF can be “An area designated

and effectively managed to protect marine ecosystems, processes, habitats, and species, which can contribute to the restoration and replenishment of resources for social, economic and cultural enrichment. Critical ocean habitats need proper protection if they are to be able to cope with the threats to marine biodiversity.

Coral Regeneration

Even in parts of the world where coral reefs have died of have been dramatically reduced, for example due to the major coral bleaching events in 2014 and 2017, there is still hope for recovery. Coral can be grown, just like in plants can be grown in a garden. Healthy cuts of living coral can be taken and arranged on standing structures which, with some luck, are exposed to coral spawning events where fertilized polyps can attach to their structures and grow. Over time, and with some maintenance, to remove build-up of excess algae, these budding coral structures can ultimately be transplanted back on to damaged coral reefs and take hold.

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