The coral reefs are in jeopardy, because of things like pollution, global warming, over development, careless recreation, and cyanide fishing. The coral reefs are delicate eco systems and these “under water rain forests” can break down if parts of that system are being killed or taken away.
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Cyanide fishing, pollution, global warming, recreation, over-development, and many other factors are harming the reefs as we speak. Some say that they could die in 20 years. Right now, reefs are dying in some places, so I’m not sure if they mean that the reefs will be gone in 20 years, or just begin to die away even more.
According to the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, 20% of the world’s coral reef systems have been completely destroyed and are showing no signs of recovery. They predict that 24% of the world’s remaining coral reef are under imminent threat due to human pressures. The pressures include: over fishing, poor management practices, fishing with destructive methods, and pollution. These factors remove vital organisms from the food chain and thus alter the reef system. If one key contributor to a fragile system is reduced, or worse removed completely, the whole system reacts in varying degrees. With the reduction of grazing species (fish, crabs, etc…), macro-algae is allowed to freely grow and this in turn smothers the once healthy and balanced reef.
We tend to look at problems on a scale that is visual. For example, if you remove the alpha predator from a system, then middle predators will flourish. But what happens when we remove substantial numbers of alpha predators, middle predators, herbivores, grazers, and scavengers? Then we are left with a scenario like the coral reefs (and oceans to a larger degree). The macro level organisms begin to take over, and without any resistance from grazers, it will destroy the coral reef systems completely.
There is however hope. There have been signs of recovery in Australia and Pacific regions, but this doesn’t just happen out of nowhere. There must be concerted conservation efforts to protect these beautiful and integral systems of the Ocean.
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