Coral reefs can be found in warm shallow tropical seas, and others can be found in the cold, dark depths of the ocean. Coral Polyps are the animals that are responsible for building our coral reefs. Coral reefs are the most diverse ecosystem in the world that many people and organizations strive to protect. So, what is the importance of coral reefs?
Benefits of Coral Reef Ecosystems
Did you know over half a billion people depend on the coral reefs for their income, protection, and food? Coral reef systems have several benefits, but these are just a few.
They protect the coastline from erosion and storms, provide jobs for locals, and offer recreation opportunities.
If there were no coral reefs, essential food, shelter for spawning fish, marine food webs, and other aquatic organisms would no longer exist. Biodiversity would suffer significantly because of no coral reef ecosystem.
If coral reefs no longer existed, it would have a domino effect on fishing industries, tourism, coastlines, loss of medical research, less oxygen, algae, and jellyfish.
How Do Coral Reefs Protect Our Coasts?
Coral reefs can sustainably reduce flooding to our coast and erosion by dissipating up to 97% of incident wave energy. The reefs work as low-crested breakwaters with hydrodynamic behavior characterized by coastal engineering models.
When coral reefs face erosion, it increases the coastal hazards. When the coral reefs are on the shallow sea floor surrounding them, they have several natural barriers that protect our coastal communities and shorelines from hazards like waves, erosion, and storms.
Threats to Coral Reef Ecosystems
Coral reef ecosystems, unfortunately, have several severe threats. Some threats the ecosystem faces are natural predators, storms, and diseases.
The other major threat that the coral reef ecosystems face are threats caused by pollution, unsustainable fishing practices, climate change, and pollution, which are also affected by global warming.
The ocean’s rise in temperature is causing ocean acidification. This kind of situation can stress the corals leading to coral bleaching and possible death of the coral. The other threats cause physical damage to the ecosystems. Still, in the end, all threats to coral reef ecosystems are severe.
CITED: www.usgs.gov, www.noaa.gov, www.conservation.reefcause.com