What do we know about life on Earth? Too often we humans are unaware of the subtle, fragile harmony in world’s ecology and how important the role of every living species is. The decline of one of such species, which threatens to destabilise world ecology, are coral reefs – complex and delicate ecosystems that are sometimes called the “rainforests of the ocean.” Pollution, invasive species or incautious tourists all cause them harm.
Reef Rescue: 5 Things You Can Do To Protect Coral Reef
By Bob Gorman
One doesn’t need to be an expert to have a positive impact on coral reefs. By taking a few simple actions, everyone can reduce the damage that is befalling our coral reefs.
1. Be a Responsible Tourist
Sometimes unaware, people can damage coral reefs simply by touching them. Running your boat into a coral reef can cause serious damage, so avoid anchoring and look for a sandy bottom or use mooring buoy systems if available.
Be careful when you snorkel and scuba dive. It’s good to be aware of the fact that you should leave only bubbles and take only pictures when you’re in the ocean. So keep your gear and hands away from the delicate coral and the animals that inhabit them.
Leaving litter behind on the beach or throwing it into the ocean itself can eventually cause the trash to come into contact with the coral reef, so dispose of your trash properly.
You can support reef-friendly businesses. Show interest and ask the fishing, boating, hotel, aquarium, dive or snorkelling operators how they protect the reef and let them know you are an informed customer and care about reefs. And only buy marine fish, jewellery and other souvenirs made out of coral when you know they have been collected in an ecologically sound manner.
2. Let’s practice general conservation
Let’s reduce the carbon footprint and walk, bike, carpool or take the bus more often. Let’s use less electricity and reduce greenhouse gases. We can reduce, reuse and recycle our trash.
The less fresh water we use, the less runoff and wastewater eventually ends up in the oceans and damages coral reefs. By planting trees, we can reduce the runoff.
Use only ecological or organic fertilisers. No matter how far from the ocean environment we live, all storm drains lead to the ocean.
3. Reduce Environmental Damage
Various aspects of land development and construction can damage coral reefs that are located near shores. The building of marinas, docks or ploughing of fields can loosen the sediment and silt. Such factors can disturb coral reefs by blocking the sunlight or burying the corals; stopping them from developing completely.
4. Take a Step Further
There are global efforts to protect the reefs, and “being a part of the solution is better than being part of the problem’’ can become your new motto. Consider volunteering for local beach and reef clean-up programs. There’s no better combination than being useful and enjoying the beauty of nature’s treasures at the same time.
Likewise, volunteer to support reef science. For example, in Australia, the government has created ways for people to get involved and help protect The Great Barrier Reef. It has created a monitoring program that allows average people to contribute by reporting their observations and data. In this illustration, you can see what’s harming the Reef and what you as a citizen scientist can do to help.
It’s important you support organisations that dedicated to protecting coral reefs.
In addition to picking up your trash, carry away the trash that others have left behind. Think of yourself as having a new title – a marine debris crusader. Or why not becoming a Reef Ranger in a National Park?
Contact and pressure politicians to support reefs. Demand they support policies to protect coral reefs, such as stopping sewage pollution of the oceans or expanding marine protected areas.
Such actions like illegal fishing, improper anchoring or dumping of trash should be reported to proper authorities.
5. Help Educate People about Coral Reefs
Educate yourself and keep informed. Research existing and proposed laws, programs and projects which focus on the world’s coral reefs. Consider participating in an educational training about reef ecology.
When you work on educating yourself, you are also helping others to understand the issue. Try to remember your own excitement at learning how important the planet’s coral reefs are to us and spread the enthusiasm to as many people as possible to get involved. Share the knowledge of these good practice examples. It can and will make a difference.
And remember – sharing is caring!
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