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By alobi99 Apr 13, 2013 4602 Words
The coral reef structure also buffers shorelines against waves, storms, and floods, helping to prevent loss of life, property damage, and erosion. Several million people live in U.S. coastal areas adjacent to or near coral reefs, and the well-being of their communities and economies is directly dependent on the health of nearby coral reefs.

Reefs also protect the highly productive mangrove fisheries and wetlands along the coast, as well as ports and harbors and the economies they support. Globally, half a billion people are estimated to live within 100 kilometers of a coral reef and benefit from its production and protection.

As well as providing lives, coral reefs also save them. Coral reefs prevent erosion at along the coasts, acting as a barrier, holding back floods, waves, and storms. Coral reefs have saved houses in the past with their efforts; several million people in the U.S. owe coral reefs their homes as its solid structure has been able to protect them from natural occurrences. Not only do people benefit from the services provided by coral reefs, however mangrove fisheries, as well as wetlands, not to mention also ports and harbours have remained protected from the strong forces of the sea thanks to coral reefs. Coral reefs protects around 500 million globally, that live within 100 kilometers from a reef that they owe thanks to for protecting their homes.

As well as providing lives, coral reefs also save them. Coral reefs prevent erosion at along the coasts, acting as a barrier, holding back floods, waves, and storms. Coral reefs have saved houses in the past with their efforts; several million people in the U.S. owe coral reefs their homes as its solid structure has been able to protect them from natural occurrences. Not only do people benefit from the services provided by coral reefs, however mangrove fisheries, as well as wetlands, not to mention also ports and harbours have remained protected from the strong forces of the sea thanks to coral reefs. Coral reefs protects around 500 million globally, that live within 100 kilometers from a reef that they owe thanks to for protecting their homes.

Yet another comparison can be made between rainforests and coral reefs, for both of them supply natural medicinal resources to major diseases such as HIV, cancer, heart disease, arthritis (joint disorder), cardiovascular diseases, ulcers, leukemia, and many more. Because of this, they have also been referred to as "medicinal cabinets" of the 21st Century. Even today, scientists are vigorously researching the resources that these unexplored hospitals may offer us. And so if we preserve them, they can be of much use to us in the future, assuming we know more about its medicinal value - for it may be able to solve future medicinal dilemmas.

Coral reefs provide a home to 4,000 fish species, mollusks, worms, crustaceans, such as crabs, shrimp and lobsters, echinoderms, such as sea urchins, sea cucumbers and starfish, sponges, tunicates and cnidarians, such as Jellyfish . Coral reefs are the largest underwater ecosystems, and to add to the wonder, scientists believe that we are still yet to discover 1 to 8 million more unknown species, found in coral reefs, this biological diversity is part of what makes it distinctive.

A good example can be found in Bonaire, a small Caribbean island. Bonaire earns about USD $23 million annually from coral reef activities, yet managing its marine park costs less than $1 million per year (Talbot F., and C. Wilkinson, 2001, Coral Reefs, Mangroves and Seagrasses: A Sourcebook for Managers). The variety of marine life and protected beaches supported by coral reefs provide an inviting setting for sightseers, sunbathers, snorkelers, and scuba divers. In fact, there are more than 8.5 million certified scuba divers in the United States who spend money on dive vacations each year. In 1997, the State of Florida earned USD $1.6 billion from coral reef and beach-related tourism. For residents of coral reef areas who depend on income from tourism, reef destruction creates a significant loss of employment in the tourism, marine recreation, and sport fishing industries.

Coral reefs play a major part in tourism, and so coral reefs can help boom the economy of those countries which are developing but are near a coral reef, and coral reefs have been proven to be a popular destination with tourists. A good example of this is the caribbean island known as Bonaire. It gains $23 million dollars annually as a result of its coral reefs, and therefore thanks again to coral reefs, countries and islands like Bonaire are able to gain simply because of their fortunate geographical location. Diving tours, fishing trips, hotels, restaurants, and other businesses are all examples of the type of things you might find in a coral reef based tourist attraction.

Coral reefs are of major economic importance, with an estimated annual global economic value of $350 billion. Coral reefs can support fisheries because of the overwhelming amount of fish that it supports, and coral reefs can also be of use to any tourism or recreational-based jobs and businesses. Millions of people rely on coral reefs for these reasons and more. Florida Keys is visited by millions of tourists each year, and therefore this contributes largely to the economy as well as highlighting the importance of coral reefs in a touristic aspect.

The term ‘unsustainable’ means something that is not able to be maintained at the current rate or level. It’s something that is not able to be supported or continued in the future, as well as upheld or defended. ‘Unsustainable’ things damage the environment because they use up more energy, wood, coal, oil, gas etc. They use up all of these resources that can be replaced naturally. To summarise up the meaning of the term ‘unsustainable’, it’s the use of resources at a rate that will eventually drain the resources and/or cause major ecological damage.

The ecological definition of unsustainable is that something will not be able to be continued without harming the Earth, or without running out of resources that are needed to withhold and support something. There are a lot of examples of unsustainable practices and items, such as coal, gas and oil, all of which are unrenewable energy sources, which means that once they run out we will not be able to retrieve it back with ease, and so these things are running out, with our increased use of these valuable energy sources, and some of the ways we use them are careless and unnecessary. What happens is that when we burn these resources we are releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and this harms the Earth and subsequently contributes to global warming. Though oil is technically renewable it would take millions of years to get back, probably even more to get back what we have now. Another example would be deforestation, which means cutting down trees, this also releases carbon dioxide, which is bad for the environment, to add to the horror we cut down two football fields of forests per second!

For millions of years, the symbiotic relationship between the coral polyps and the zooxanthellae has been the key the development of coral reefs over the course of many millennia. The zooxanthellae provides the nutrients that coral needs to survive and grow; supplying around 90% of the corals' energy, and therefore it is clear that the zooxanthellae are extremely important for the coral's survival and be can be called the very reason coral reefs today are thriving. Today the world faces a major problem, that of global warming, and with the increasing temperatures around the world, coral reefs around the world may fall victim to this inevitable fate: Coral bleaching. Coral bleaching mainly occurs when the water surrounding the coral dramatically increases (or decreases), and this causes a stress in the chloroplasts (the parts in the zooxanthellae that trap sunlight) of the zooxanthellae. This leads to gradual degradation of the chloroplasts and increased stress on the zooxanthellae causing it to leave the coral. The zooxanthellae additionally provide photosynthetic pigments which give the coral their colour, but with the zooxanthellae's departure, the coral gradually loses its colour, becoming more and more transparent to the extent of which the white calcium carbonate exoskeleton of the coral is clearly visible, hence the term, Coral bleaching. As a result, the coral cannot provide itself with the required nutrients and can become easily exposed to major diseases, these cause a gradual decline in the coral's health until it finally reaches the inevitable - death.

Unfortunately, coral bleaching isn't the only that global warming is affecting today's coral reef systems. The increased release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere means that more carbon dioxide is yet to be absorbed by the ocean, in fact, the ocean absorbs 30-40% of Carbon Dioxide emissions, a total of a whopping 525 billion tons. Naturally when the carbon dioxide is absorbed by the ocean, it dissolves into it, forming a carbonic acid, though this is acid is not very strong, it definitely affects the coral itself. Carbonic acid means the pH of the ocean goes down, and therefore the ocean is more acidic than before. Chemical reactions that subsequently occur because of this, cause a decrease in the amount of carbonate ions in the sea, meaning that for calcifying organisms in the sea (organisms that use calcium carbonate to build themselves/their shells), such as coral and some plankton, it will become harder to find and use the calcium carbonate. What makes this worse is, these things are now vulnerable to dissolution, which means that the carbonic acid will dissolve the calcium carbonate, and therefore cause these calcifying structures to degrade; and so these organisms need to build up faster in order to be protected. This not only poses a threat to the coral, but the coral reef itself, these conditions can cause some marine species to die out, and this causes a disruption in a once balanced ecosystem and therefore there are alterations in predation, and so other organisms will start eating ones they don't usually eat, and this causes an unbalance in the coral reef ecosystem.

It is evident, that it is in human nature to exploit the resources given to us, and that is the case in the coral reef ecosystem. Overfishing is a serious issue that affects the coral reef itself, and just individual fish. The Coral Reef ecosystem is a large one, however, all the organisms in it are interdependent; and so they depend on each other. Overfishing means fish are hunted and killed by man, but the rate at which this is done is too quick for the ecosystem to recover and therefore it becomes unsustainable, and this is a big problem. In extreme cases, overfishing can harm a coral reef to the extent that it is beyond repair, and so the coral reef collapses as a result of overfishing. When too many fish are taken, this means that their predators will suffer as a result, because of the lack of prey, and this can cause the predators to seek new prey, or they die out, in either situation, there is an ecological unbalance as a result of overfishing. In the case that they seek new prey, this causes a drastic change in the food chain which can cause ecosystems to be destroyed ecologically. With the lack of food, there is increased competition amongst the organisms in the ecosystem, and this is in some cases, causes the coral itself to die out as a result.

The term ‘unsustainable’ means something that is not able to be maintained at the current rate or level. It’s something that is not able to be supported or continued in the future, as well as upheld or defended. ‘Unsustainable’ things damage the environment because they use up more energy, wood, coal, oil, gas etc. They use up all of these resources that can be replaced naturally. To summarise up the meaning of the term ‘unsustainable’, it’s the use of resources at a rate that will eventually drain the resources and/or cause major ecological damage.

The term 'sustainable' means something that will be able to be continued and maintained at the current rate or level. It's something that will continue to be supported without harming the environment. Renewable energy sources are excellent examples of sustainable development. Solar energy is energy that comes from the sun, through the form of solar radiation. To give an idea of how sustainable it is, an hour's worth of sunlight, when absorbed by solar panels can last the world's energy demand. Solar energy is absolutely free; it does not produce waste or pollution. in countries with a hot or sunny climate, solar power can be used to supply them with electricity, when there is no other electrical source within disposal or affordability.

Another example of a renewable energy source is biomass. Biomass is organic material - formerly alive, which has stored sunlight in the form of chemical energy. Biomass is a renewable energy source because the energy stored in it comes from the sun thought the process of photosynthesis, since the energy comes from the sun, it is renewable - as long as the sun is shining, because the energy comes from the sun's light rays, and not the sun itself. The fact that its energy source is the sun makes it practically an inexhaustible fuel source - what this means is as long as the sun is shining (which will be for a very long time) which is practically forever. Also, it is accessible worldwide - therefore no matter where you are you can use biomass as an energy source. Also burning it will not generate energy - burning would cause an environmental impact, so the energy is renewable, thus not harming the environment.

June 11, 1998 marks the day that U.S. President issued Executive Order 13089 on Coral Reef Protection, his goal was "to preserve and protect the biodiversity, health, heritage, and social and economic value of U.S. coral reef ecosystems and the marine environment." In this order, all federal agencies and services must also protect the coral reef ecosystems, with plans to restore the coral, and minimize any future damage of coral reefs around the world.

The task force was co-chaired by the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce through the Administrator of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. The international initiatives for coral reef protection are to be chosen through leadership of the Secretary of State and the Administrator of the Agency for International Development.

Each member of the Task Force is required to do the following:

Coral Reef Mapping and Monitoring. With help from the State, territory, commonwealth, and local government partners, the Task Force is to put together a complete program to monitor and map U.S. coral reefs including territories and commonwealths, marine areas that especially protected, such as: National Marine Sanctuaries, National Estuarine Research Reserves, National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, among others. It is preferable to use remote sensing.

Research. The Task Force will work alongside the scientific community to develop a program of research with focuses on the major causes and the after math of degradation of coral reef ecosystems. Current monitoring, as well as planned and mapping initiatives should be added so as to make the research project feasible - easy to build.

Conservation, Mitigation, and Restoration. The Task Force will work alongside State, territorial, commonwealth, as well as local government agencies, non-governmental organizations, the scientific community and commercial interests to develop and enforce measures to restore already damaged coral reefs, and to minimize any future damage made to coral reefs. These measures may include actions that address problems such as land-based sources of water pollution, or detrimental (harmful) alteration of salinity and temperature, sedimentation, over-fishing, collection of coral reef species, the direct destruction as a result of recreational and commercial vessel traffic and treasure salvage. The Task Force will evaluate navigational aids, including charts, beacons, day markers and maps to see if these can be improved for the purpose of raking the locations of coral reefs.

International Cooperation. The Secretary of State and the Administrator of the Agency for International Development, alongside other members of the Coral Reef Task Force, are to assess the U.S. role in international trade and protection of coral reef species, and enforce strategies and actions, so as to promote conservation and sustainable use of coral reef resources worldwide. Those actions will include expanded collaboration with other International Coral a reef Initiative (ICRi) partners, governments in particular, to enforce the ICRI through its Framework for Action and the a global a coral Reef Monitoring Network at regional, national, and local levels.

Jamaica's reefs are regarded as the centre of marine species diversity of the Caribbean region (Goreau et al., 1979). This results from Jamaica's exceptionally high habitat diversity in a small area and its probable role as major refuge of the Caribbean reef fauna and flora during the Ice Ages. Jamaica's reef ecosystems as a whole are therefore central to conservation of the Caribbean's marine biodiversity.

Jamaica's reefs are currently under high stress in all developed coastal areas (Goreau, 1992), and much of the remainder are near areas slated for development soon. Unless the remaining reefs are assessed quickly with regard to environmental protection needs, many of the best could be lost soon due to a wide range of population dependent stresses or to temperature and climate channe (Goreau & Hayes, 1994).

In the United States' case, investing money for research to protect coral reefs would be fine, however in some cases, countries without a booming economy, and in some cases, the country doesn't even know that they're hurting the coral reefs because of their limited knowledge. Jamaica is an LED C that now seeks to protect its coral reefs, the problem is that it could be using this money for development, instead they might use it to protect coral reefs, so there are many stresses occurring in the country and in coral reefs due to climate change.

Though this damage could have been prevented before it even happened but Jamaica didn't have the full details and therefore they don't have the scientific expertise when compared to America, for example. This is actually how a lot of Caribbean countries lost their reefs, simply because they didn't have the full understanding of coral reefs and therefore they were harming the coral reefs without them knowing, so in this case the destruction of coral reefs in the Caribbean was entirely unintentional. What makes Jamaica special is the fact that it had the longest and most detailed reef ecology in the world, yet they were unable to build on this. And now it has become mandatory for people to become educated about the coral reefs so that they can make a difference.

Although the first coral reef marine parks in the world were planned in Jamaica in the mid 1950s, no action was taken by the relevant authorities for over 35 years. Conservation related marine research and monitoring in Jamaica has deteriorated over the past 20 years, while destruction and degradation of reef habitats around the island has accelerated (Goreau, 1992). Serious and sustained work is badly needed to record and learn from the changes of the past, to understand the causes of the changes taking place at present, and to prepare for the future.

Jamaica could have used the coral reefs to their advantage, by attracting tourists, and they had originally planned in the 1950s, but no action was ever taken whatsoever. What makes this worse is that over the years is that knowledge and education about coral reefs and marine research and monitoring has deteriorated ever since, and the rate at which the island's coral reefs deteriorate only has increased over the years.

I think that the threats that coral reefs face are more than the effort the world is trying to protect it. The problem with this is, that essentially any country can destroy their coral reefs but only some can actually restore due to their booming economy. But part of the problem is that because some of the countries' economy doesn't allow them to be fully educated and can unintentionally jeopardize their coral reef ecosystems. One of the examples of how coral reefs are protected are thanks to the coral task force, but this is probably exclusive to MEDCs simply because they have the economy to support it, whereas the rest of the world may not be able to help themselves. Resources of the coral reefs can easily be exploited by the countries they belong to, however I would think that this would be more likely when talking about LEDCs, because they need the money, LEDCs use their natural resources to increase their economy - the problem with this is that this is not always sustainable, and therefore LEDCs tend to boost their economies in unsustainable ways, of course, in their case they don't have much of a choice simply because they desperately need the money.

The problem with protecting coral reefs is that even if we do protect them, there are still forces of human nature that are fighting back at us; The large presence of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere means that the ocean is going to absorb it, which creates a carbonic acid that eats away at the coral and other calcifying organisms, but there is not much we can do about this, because we can't go around and remove the carbonic acid from the ocean, because that would be impractical. Of course there is the major issue of global warming, that plays a large part in the deterioration of coral reefs, the problem with global warming is that it cannot be stopped, but it can be slowed down, and I think generally the same applies here, we can try to preserve coral reefs for longer but eventually one day they will simply die out. Global Warming causes the constant rise of temperatures of the sea, and there is nothing we can do to stop it, ad we can't cool the sea either because it's so big. The Task Force idea, in my idea is pretty much useless at this point, and unfortunately, in my opinion I think that the coral reefs are already on a downward spiral and that it will only continue; the best we can do is hope to slow it down but before we can do anything about it we have to accept this unfortunate fact on its own.

I think the most important is thing to do is educate the people. This returns to the case study made about Jamaica, in which they do not have a good understanding of how coral reefs are harmed. The problem is that those countries are actually causing the problems themselves, but they don't know that, which is a problem. We shouldn't expect of the LEDCs to start protecting coral reefs with a task force, but first they must protect the coral reefs by understanding what causes them to deteriorate and the fact that they can be making a difference by not harming them at all. Coral Reefs are not exclusive to one place, but they are distributed around the world, and we cannot hope to individually achieve , because that would be nothing, we need to cooperate as a planet and take steps to eliminate the threats together, and though its the first step of the way, I believe that if all countries become educated about coral reefs then, and only then, can they begin making a difference. It is only together as a planet, that we achieve greatness.

What also can be done, is that we make the rules stricter, and so less people will bend the laws. Suppose that all of the governments surveil their own coral reefs, so if somebody wants to enter the water space to go fishing they must pay beforehand, and security officials must accompany the fisherman on his fishing trip, and if the fisherman overfished, he must pay a fine that increases with every caught fish. Also, the government should exclusively supply the country with the fish it needs - by fishing the fish themselves, and so you can buy fish in the market. On the subject of rubbish, pollution should not also go unpunished, anybody who is caught polluting, even if it is so much as a little bit, they should be fined and are forced to pay to attend beach clean-ups, to inspire them not to throw away rubbish into the ocean. These ideas may seem odd and weird, but I think that given their outrageousness, people will stick to the rules, and so we can stop the subject of rubbish altogether.


Pollution is another threat to coral reefs. Pollution is one of the leading causes of coral reef degradation. Coral reefs can be damaged by a variety of pollutants that are produced by a variety of sources. Urban and industrial waste, sewage, agrochemicals, oil and gas pollution, and pesticide pollutants poison corals and marine life. Coral reefs are harmed when human, animal waste, fertilizer and toxins are dumped directly into the ocean or when river systems carry these pollutants to reef waters. Some pollutants, such as sewage and runoff from farming, increase the level of nitrogen in seawater around coral reefs, causing an overgrowth of algae, which suffocates reefs by cutting off their sunlight. Runoff from farming can contain herbicides, pesticides and nutrient fertilizers. Nitrogen and phosphorus can fertilize algae and result in algae growing vigorously. Because algae can grow so much faster than coral, they can out-compete corals. Trash also kills coral reef animals. Floating trash can cover reefs blocking off sunlight that polyps need to survive. Turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish and eat them. Plastic blocks the turtle’s digestive area, causing them to starve to death. Lost or abandoned fishing nets, called ‘ghost nets’, can catch on reefs and strangle thousands of fish, sea turtles and marine mammals. Human sewage can add nutrients, microorganisms and other pollutants to coral reefs. Nutrients in sewage can cause eutrophication. Bacteria added by sewage pollution are suspected causes of increased incidences of coral diseases such as the white band disease. Chemical pollution can also harm coral reefs. For example, oil spills, the result of spills from drilling or discharge of oil from vessels can harm reefs. In addition to runoff, wind blows material into the ocean. This material may be local or from other regions. For example, dust from the Sahara moves to the Caribbean and Florida. Dust also blows from the Gobi and Taklamakan deserts across Korea, Japan, and the Northern Pacific to the Hawaiian Islands.

Pollution can contribute greatly to coral reef degradation, of course, pollution is a human action that again is unsustainable and extremely harmful to the coral and the organisms in the coral reef ecosystem. Coral reefs can be polluted by many things such as oil and gas, pesticides, poisons, animal waste, as well as fertilizer. When all of these are dumped into the water they affect in their different ways. Eutrophication is when the water in a coral reef has nutrients added to it (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium). Nutrients can be found in sewage and when it is dumped into the water this increases the nutrients in the water. As a result, algae begins to grow at a dramatically faster speed, and it grows on the polyps, therefore blocking the sunlight, and subsequently suffocating the coral.

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