Coral reefs are incredibly important to the diversity and health of our oceans. Making up only 0.2 percent of our oceans, but containing around a quarter of all marine fish species, coral reefs are second only to rainforests in biodiversity of species. Coral reefs serve as nurseries for growing fish, protect shorelines from erosion, provide food for coastal communities, and are a vital source of tourism income for countless communities. There are potentially millions of undiscovered species living amidst our coral reefs, and many major cancer- and virus-fighting drugs are being developed from coral-reef animals and plants.
The importance of coral reefs is unquestionable, but these systems are under serious threat. We have already lost 27 percent of the world’s reefs, and if the current rate of reef destruction continues, we will have lost 60 percent of the world’s coral reefs within the next 30 years. The threats facing our reefs are both natural and manmade.
The threats to coral reefs are numerous, and with so much damage already done, the fight can seem hopeless. However, there are things we can do to save these precious resources. Practice safe and responsible diving and snorkeling when visiting coral reefs. Don’t purchase items made from coral or other threatened marine life. Practice water conservation. Volunteer for a reef cleanup, or join an environmental organization that supports marine ecosystems. Check out our infographic to learn more about the importance of coral reefs and what you can do to help protect them.