If anyone is lucky enough to have been near the ocean, you probably got a chance to witness firsthand the beauty and majesty of the coral reefs. These beautiful and diverse ecosystems are usually fairly deep in the ocean. Unfortunately, experts believe that as much as 75 percent of the world’s coral reefs are in danger because of water temperature rising, excess carbon dioxide in the water and other types of pollution.
According to Wikipedia, “Coral reefs are diverse underwater ecosystems held together by calcium carbonate structures secreted by corals. Coral reefs are built by colonies of tiny animals found in marine waters that contain few nutrients. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, which in turn consist of polyps that cluster in groups.”
As per Defenders, “Coral reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, housing tens of thousands of marine species. About one-third of all marine fish species live part of their lives on coral reefs. Coral reefs cover less than 0.2% of our oceans but they contain 25% of the world’s marine fish species!“
35 Tremendous Ways to Save Coral Reefs From Destruction
Here is a look at 35 ways that you can help limit the destruction of our coral reefs.
1. Support the Right Businesses
When you are visiting the ocean, look around the shops and other establishments in the city or town. Talk with dive shops, hotels and other types of coastal stores about how they are trying to help save the coral reef. If they cannot provide a decent answer, it probably means that they do not care. In this case, you should take your business and money to a place that supports our reefs.
2. Pesticides and Fertilizers
These two types of chemicals are extremely harmful to coral reef systems around the world. Even if you live nowhere near an ocean, it is likely that the products you use will find their way into the watershed, which eventually makes its way to an ocean. Every extra bit of chemicals in the water can have a detrimental impact on the coral reefs.
3. Volunteer for an Environmental Organization
There are plenty of organizations that dedicate their time to assisting in the cleanup efforts for the coral reef. Even if you do not live near a reef, you can always take a trip one or two times a year, as part of your vacation, to an ocean and help there. If you really cannot make it to a reef in the near future, consider donating to organizations that help with cleanup efforts.
4. Educate Yourself
Coral reefs are such beautiful ecosystems that we are all familiar with to some extent, but we can always learn more. Do you know how many species are present in the reefs? How many different medicines and herbs are discovered by studying the organisms that live there? The more you learn about the reefs, the more you will come to appreciate how fragile and important these ecosystems are to this planet.
5. Local Aquarium
Chances are your local aquarium has some sort of system where they accept donations that go towards preserving a nearby coral reef. Talk with them about reef efforts and how you can help. Visiting aquariums is also a great way to learn about the many different species that live underwater.
6. Be Respectful
If you are planning on visiting a coral reef anytime soon, think about how you can be respectful during your trip. If there are any local guidelines or recommendations about how to interact with the reef, please adhere to them strictly. In addition, you can talk with locals about anything they might be doing to protect the reefs.
7. Conservation Efforts
There are many organizations around the world that dedicate their resources to preserving and conserving the world’s coral reefs. Look into these organizations and see how you can help them – through volunteering or donations.
8. Spread the Message
Even though you might be aware of the coral reefs and how they are under threat, this does not mean your friends and family share this awareness. Offer them information on the reefs through books, videos and social media. The more people learn and get excited about the coral reefs, the greater the chances of us coming together to succeed at conservation.
9. Buy Eco-friendly Products
Sometimes we like to buy items that came from the coral reef, such as coral objects to put on a coffee or computer table. While it may be nice to have such a beautiful object in your home, this piece was probably extracted from a coral reef somewhere in the world. If you care at all about the reefs, it is not a good idea to support such businesses and products.
10. Reduce Pollution
There is no excuse for polluting the environment around the water supply. If you have trash or other waste to dispose of, do it in a designated location. Even when you are back home and not near the ocean, be aware of your behavior and how it might be impacting the environment.
11. Start Recycling
Be the change that you want in the world, especially when it comes to the environment. Start recycling at all times, even if it takes a little bit of extra effort. Your community probably has a recycling program, which makes it very easy to safely dispose of glass, paper, cardboard and other items.
12. Conserve Water
If we use less water every day, this means that less runoff and wastewater gets back to the oceans. While it is perfectly natural for wastewater to make its way back to the ocean, eventually, it is the chemicals and other substances that damage the oceans and reefs.
13. Report Illegal Behavior
If you see anyone dumping chemicals into the water, report them immediately. It is impossible for the authorities to do something if they do not know it is happening.
14. Be Part of Cleanliness Drive
Even if you are disposing of your own trash, think about picking up after others. It is a tedious job, but if everyone made an effort to clean up the trash around them, our oceans and reefs would be in much better health.
When you are buying fish, please take a moment to consider how it was caught. Only buy fish that is collected in ecologically correct ways. When fish is collected by using sodium cyanide, this is extremely harmful to the oceans.
16. Go Online
You will be surprised at how much information is available online regarding coral reefs. Not only can you watch videos from the ocean, but you can learn more about how the reefs around the world are suffering at the present time.
17. Avoid Live Rock
Many people like to create live rock aquariums because of how beautiful they look. However, this liverock is typically harvested in an illegal manner, which means you are supporting the devastation of the coral reefs and ocean habitats.
18. Hire Local Guides
If you want to visit the coral reef while on vacation, think about hiring a local guide to help you learn more about the ocean. They will be extremely helpful, while they can also provide safety tips on how to enjoy the experience without harming ocean life.
19. DO NOT Anchor
Never anchor on the reef, no matter what the situation. Avoid taking boats, even small ones, anywhere near the reef. Any contact with the reef damage the delicate coral animals, and anchoring on the reef can even kill corals, so better look for sandy bottom or use moorings, if available.
20. Take Care While Diving
If you are planning on diving and checking out the coral reef, make a conscious effort not to touch any of the parts. The reefs are extremely delicate, and one mistake while touching them can cause serious damage. Take plenty of pictures, but stay a safe distance from the reef.
21. Great American Fish Count
This is a great event that takes place every year where you can learn more about the oceans, coral reefs and related marine life.
22. Speak to Local Officials
If you are worried about how the coral reefs are being treated by local businesses or organizations, talk to local officials and implore them to take action.
23. Plant Trees
If you live near the ocean, consider planting a tree. Even if the tree is not right near the ocean, it will help reduce the runoff that goes into the water. Trees also help limit the increasing planet temperatures, which have a negative impact on the oceans and coral reefs.
24. Creation of Marine Parks
These parks and reserves are a great way to preserve marine life that may no longer survive safely in the oceans. Visiting these parks offers them financial support, but it also teaches you more about the ocean ecosystem.
25. Do not Dump Wastewater into the Ocean
If you are using a boat in the ocean, make sure that the wastewater and sewage coming out of the boat is safely disposed of. Do not allow it to be dumped into the ocean!
26. Coral Cloning
When a storm hit coral, a piece of a colony might break off, tumble away, and eventually reattach to the bottom and continue to grow by cloning itself. Therefore, nursery practitioners can deliberately fragment corals to create genetically identical clones. Around the world, almost 90 species are successfully farmed. Every year, practitioners in the Caribbean and western Atlantic now grow and outplant tens of thousands of corals onto degraded reefs, often funded by private donors, grants or government restoration projects.
27. Mitigate Climate Change
Mitigating climate change is the only long-term, sustainable solution to conserve and restore coral reefs. The efforts to save coral reefs cannot be ultimately successful, and they won’t be restored to their potential until the environment becomes more hospitable to their survival.
Despite global lockdowns and sharply falling emissions, atmospheric carbon dioxide still reached a record high in May. The oceans absorb and store heat very efficiently, which is over 90% of the planet’s heat trapped in the atmosphere by human-generated greenhouse gases. But this heat-storing capacity isn’t limitless, and excess heat over time takes its toll on ocean inhabitants.
28. Make your Lawn Care Green
Even if you live thousands of miles from a coral reef, but the products you put on your lawn will eventually flow into the water system. The overuse of fertilizers on lawns harms water quality because nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) from the fertilizer are washed into waterways and eventually end up in oceans. These nutrients pollute the water and can harm coral reefs.
29. Plant a Coral
You can join the charitable efforts to plant and restore corals in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Micronesia.
30. Choose a Reef-friendly Sunscreen
We need to be cautious while using sunscreen. Some common sunscreen ingredients, including oxybenzone and octinoxate, have been shown to be toxic to corals or even kill corals. Sunscreens that use non-nano zinc oxide as their active ingredients do not contribute to coral bleaching. Better yet, cut down on sunscreen use by wearing a long-sleeved shirt or rash guard to prevent sunburn.
31. Leave no Trash Behind
Don’t leave unwanted fishing lines or nets in the water or on the beach. Any kind of litter that pollutes the water and can harm the reef and fish should be avoided. Marine debris can be harmful to coral reefs.
32. Try Environment-friendly Modes of Transportation
If you are planning to buy a car, choose a fuel-efficient vehicle like a hybrid or electric car. Try to walk, bike, or use public transport like buses and trains more often. The cleaner transportation modes help reduce the number of greenhouse gasses that are emitted into the atmosphere. These emissions contribute to ocean acidification and increased ocean temperature. More acidic ocean waters impede coral growth, and warmer waters cause coral bleaching.
33. Reduce Stormwater Runoff
Reducing stormwater runoff prevents water pollution, reduces flooding, and protects our water resources. Homeowners need to install water catchments or rain gardens and use rain barrels to collect rainwater that would otherwise be diverted to storm drains.
34. Dispose of Trash Properly and Recycle
Recycle your trash at home and on the go especially plastic, and remember the three R’s (reduce, reuse, and recycle). Disposing of the trash properly in bins is a must to avoid trash being blown or washed away into waterways and oceans. On beaches, make sure you leave no trash behind, and never throw or leave any cigarette butts in the sand.
35. It’s time to Pay Off
The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity study found that coral reefs generate up to $1.25 million per hectare from tourism, coastal protection, medical use and fisheries annually. Approximately 850 million people live within 100 km of and derive some benefits from coral reefs, with at least 275 million depending directly on reefs for livelihoods and sustenance.
Despite their importance, coral reefs are rapidly degrading. Overfishing, destructive fishing, unsustainable coastal development, nutrient and sediment loading, a range of land-based activities, global warming due to climate change and ocean acidification are all putting extreme pressure on the world’s coral reefs, and we need to act now if we are to adequately protect them.