Eco-Pros
Environmental Education on the Web

Coral Communities
 
Endangered Reefs
 
Artificial Reefs
 
Reef Resources
 

ENDANGERED  REEFS

Healthy coral reef full of life

Notice how the coloration of the fish match their surroundings?  Many animals in all kinds of habitats can be found in areas where their colors blend into the surrounding rocks and plants.  Some animals can change their own colors at will to camouflage (disguise) themselves so they will be overlooked by predators.  In the picture above you can see how these fish can hide and become camouflaged within this environment. 

Below you will read why hiding will not even keep some marine life from harm.

 

 

10 percent of the world's coral reefs are degraded beyond recovery. 
 (federal task force study)

2/3rds of the world's coral reef systems are being damaged,
58 percent by human activities. 
(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

There are many stresses to coral reefs, both from natural causes and human activities.

  - Coastal development
- Destructive fishing methods (overfishing, trawling, dynamite, poison)
- Pollution
- Activities that muddy the water and smother coral with sediment
- Coral mining and ornamental fish and shell collectors (aquarium fish collectors)
- Careless and harmful human behavior (reef-hopping, manhandling, boat anchors)
- Global warming, changing climates, storms and other natural events
- Tourism and tourism development
- Crown-of-Thorns starfish invasions

Global warming is responsible for the destruction and severe degradation of a quarter of the world's coral reefs.  Extreme climate changes are causing higher water temperatures.  This causes algae living within coral to be expelled, which brings about coral bleaching and death to living polyps.  Even a one-degree change can affect the survival of a reef. Outbreaks of Crown-of-Thorns starfish have damaged some coral reefs severely.  Construction and logging can cause soil erosion which washes sediment down rivers and waterways into the ocean.  This muddies the waters and prevents sunlight from reaching the coral.

Photo of dead coral
Dead coral and death of an ecosystem

Besides massive pollution, the harmful effects of global warming, Crown-of-Thorns starfish invasions, and other environmentally damaging human activities; many harmful methods are being used by humans to capture tropical species and coral to sell worldwide, mostly for home aquariums.  Camouflage cannot help, nor can all the nooks and crannies in the coral offer protection as hiding spots, as you will see when you read the following:

DANGER IN THE REEF - NO PLACE TO HIDE

TRAWLING - Indiscriminate and large-scale seabed devastation is brought about by  trawling, where the sea bottom is completely leveled by heavy steel, chains and nets dragged by fishing trawlers.  Coral, plants and animals are all scraped up into huge nets, leaving the ocean habitat below destroyed.  It is estimated that 25 billion animals caught in these nets each year are thrown back into the sea as garbage because they can't be sold.  It takes centuries for a coral reef to develop and a few minutes to destroy it by trawling!
See pictures of the devastation caused by trawlers
CNN  (2/15/02)
Read more about trawling and other harmful human behavior on our Human Impacts on Oceans page.

For more information, see: Scraping the Seabed Raw (
ABC News Report)

DYNAMITE - To stun the fish and bring them out of hiding, dynamite is exploded near the reef.  This temporarily paralyzes hundreds of tropical fish and other species so the collectors can gather up huge amounts quickly.  The concussion from the explosion kills many species.  It takes centuries for a coral reef to develop and an instant for an explosion to destroy it!

CYANIDE POISONING - Another damaging and illegal hunting method is the use of  cyanide poisoning.  The hunter squirts the cyanide in and around the coral to temporarily immobilize sealife so they can be caught.  But the poison floats around and kills a great amount of smaller fish and also the coral animals.
For more information, see: New Threat to Coral Reefs:  Hobbyists (
MSNBC News Report)

U.S. Port Authorities inspectors are testing imported fish for cyanide poisoning.  Most aquarium fish come from the Philippines and Indonesia.  There are very loose laws in poorer countries for the protection of coral ecosystems.  It is estimated that of tropical fish harvested, only one out of every ten survive.

 


AQUARIUMS

 

If you have an aquarium or are thinking about getting one, you will want to choose your suppliers
very carefully.

Make sure that the fish and animals they sell have not been illegally harvested.
Do not buy coral, or buy from suppliers who sell coral, unless there is proof it was not taken from the wild.

 

Learn how to manage a healthy aquarium environment
and which tropical species are compatible with each other.
Do not release plants or animals into the environment
if they are not natural to that environment
(see our
Invasive Non-Native Species page for info)

 

Be environmentally responsible if you have an aquarium
and in this way you will be helping protect the world's coral ecosystems.


 Reefs at Risk:  A map-based indicator of potential threats to the world's coral reefs
(World Resources Institute)
Coral reefs worldwide are threatened by human activity.
This 1998 global analysis evaluates human pressure on coral reefs for 55,000 coral reef locations worldwide.
Key findings of the report include:  Coral reefs of Southeast Asia, the most species-rich on earth, are the most threatened (with more than 80 percent at-risk); most United States reefs are threatened (with the reefs off Florida coasts at-risk, close to half of Hawaii's reefs threatened, and almost all of Puerto Rico's reefs at-risk); nearly two-thirds of Caribbean reefs are in jeopardy (with many being at high risk).  Many resemble graveyards.
Other publications of the Reefs at Risk project

  10 coral reef "Hot Spots," have been identified as the most threatened coral reef ecosystems in the world.  It is estimated that a mere 2/10ths of 1 percent of the total ocean area contain the world's coral reefs, which provide habitat to "1/3 of all marine fish species and tens of thousands of other species."   The 10 hotspots comprise 34 percent of restricted-range coral reef species and contain 18 areas with the greatest concentrations of species found nowhere else on earth.
CNN (2/15/02) Also click on the Resources box in the article to see maps of the "hot spots" and read about the causes of destruction of these fragile ecosystems.

Conservation International - The Ocean's Top 10 Coral Reef Hotspots Identified For First Time
Study Sounds Alarm for Extinctions of Marine Species
 


Click to continue to Artificial Reefs
 


WELCOME TO ECO-PROS
 
EARTH
Our Home
Biodiversity of Species Endangered
Species
Ecology Natural
Resources
Great Links
for Kids
Non-Native
Species

Ocean
Home

Human Impact
on Oceans

Coral
Communities

Wetlands

WaterWebs

Grasslands
and Prairies

Insect
Respect

The
Blue Planet

Third
from the Sun

Sky
Watch
 
National
Parks

Teacher
Resources

Mega Resource
Directories

Glossaries
Dictionaries
 
Links from
Canada

Genetic
Engineering

Health
and Safety

Environmental
News

Earth's
Guardians

Global
Warming

Global 
Change

Tips
for Kids

What You Can
Do To Help

LIVING ICE CUBES?!?
DONUT-SHAPED BRAINS!?!
 
Photos
Page

About Us
About You


ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
Learn it!
Love it!
Live it!


SUMMARIZED
SITE
INDEX


EDUCATION

Feed your brain
The Right Stuff!


Website hosting provided by Sunset.Net since 1999



Send mail to www@eco-pros.com with comments about this web site.
Copyright 1999 Eco-Pros
Last modified: 20-May-2006

Website service hosted by:
http://www.sunset.net