Why we need coral reefs
Coral reefs are one of the most vulnerable ecosystems on the planet. Already, climate change has wiped out half the world’s coral reefs. If we don’t take bold action now, they could vanish from Earth in our lifetime.
Here are five reasons why we can’t let that happen.
#Coral reefs help keep us, our oceans, and our planet healthy
Our planet is a blue planet, two-thirds covered by oceans that sustain all life on Earth and provide every second breath of air we take. Without coral reefs and the wildlife that depends on them, our ocean’s health – and our own – would be at risk.
Coral reefs also play an important role in protecting in-shore habitats like seagrass meadows and mangroves, which absorb carbon dioxide from our atmosphere and store it up to 50 times more efficiently than terrestrial forests. These habitats, known as carbon sinks, are key to helping fight the impacts of climate change.
Snorkeler on the Great Barrier Reef. Ocean Image Bank
#A quarter of all marine life depends on coral reefs
Although they occupy less than 0.1% of the ocean floor, tropical coral reef ecosystems are home to at least 25% of known marine species. They provide food, shelter, resting and breeding grounds, acting as nurseries and refuges for millions of species including turtles, dolphins, whales and manta rays.
Green turtle on the Great Barrier Reef. Matt Curnock
#Over a billion people’s livelihoods depend on coral reefs
There are now about one billion people (13% of global population) living in coastal regions near coral reefs. These populations are growing faster than the global average. Many people living in these coastal reef communities are dependent on reefs for their livelihoods – be it fisheries, tourism, or other marine industries. InAustralia, the Great Barrier Reef is estimated to support over 60,000 jobs with an economic value of over $56 billion.
Fluorescing coral in New Caledonia. Ocean Image Bank
#Coral reefs are formed from ancient foundations
The earliest record we have of complete reef structures on the Great Barrier Reef is from 600,000 years ago. In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have been linked with the Reef since time immemorial and have cared for their sea Country by interweaving their culture and spirituality with sustainable use of its resources.
John Brewer Reef. Matt Curnock
#We couldn’t imagine a world without coral reefs
Beyond all ecological and economic value, our iconic reefs represent colour, life and beauty and are a place of profound cultural and spiritual significance. By working together, we know we can create a better future for coral reefs and for our planet.