Many coral reefs all over the world are being destroyed. We can all protect the coral reefs by remembering that they are created by a fragile and delicate animal. Coral is a stony substance that is made of the skeletons of certain kinds of tiny sea animals called polyps. Polyps build the coral. They are little animals that make up the coral reef with their skeletons. Reefs and small islands featuring coral are always found in tropical seas and oceans. Coral reefs vary in shape, size, and colour. They are homes to many different animals such as sponges, crabs, lobsters, and many small fishes. Coral reefs need three things to survive. They need warm water, sunlight, and clear, shallow waters. Coral will not grow in waters that are lower than 20 degrees Celsius. Sunlight and clear, shallow water is needed so that the zooxanthellae in their tissue can photosynthesize. The zooxanthella transfers some food energy directly to the coral's polyps. If waters are too deep or too murky, the zooxanthellae will not get enough light to photosynthesize. Photosynthesis is a process that plants go through to make their own sugars and starches. Even though coral is not a plant, it still photosynthesizes to store the energy that it gets from the sugar and starch. This is why you usually don't find coral below 100 meters (330 feet) deep. Coral reefs are facing many threats, both by nature and mankind. Hurricanes and storms are quickly destroying large portions of many coral reefs. Other sea animals such as fish, snails, worms, and starfish are eating many areas of the reefs. Humans also have a huge impact on coral reefs being destroyed. In a number of ways, we are destroying the reefs without realizing it. Pollution is one way people are destroying coral reefs. Pollution can kill reefs from poisons and heavy metals. The pollution enters the ocean by oil spills, acid rain, dumping of hazardous waste, exhaust pollution from boats, jet skis, and many more sources. The pollution enters the coral through the polyps, and the heavy metals from the pollution can kill the animals. When the polyps are killed, it harms the coral because they are what build the coral. Without them there is no new coral. Everything dies after that. This happens because the polyps are the coral. If there were no polyps or maybe even fewer polyps, the coral would die because there would be an empty part in the coral. The polyps' skeletons are what give the coral its jagged edges and rough surface. More than a quarter of the earth's coral reefs have been destroyed by pollution, global warming, and poor fishing practices. Fishermen may use spear guns, which can damage the coral, commercial poisons, and sometimes dynamite for fishing. Overfishing in the coral reef area can cause damage to food chains around the reefs also. We already have a huge effect on coral, but it takes a while before our actions harms the reefs. Our actions won't stop until we do something about it. Did you know that coral has an important partnership with a certain algae? This algae absorbs and converts sunlight into energy.
This energy is needed to feed the life found in a reef ecosystem. Pollution or climate change is a common cause of the loss of the algae. Because of this, the reef is being left "bleached" and not able to produce energy from sunlight. You can tell when a reef is bleached because large areas of the reef turn white. This will affect the food chain because it will kill the polyps that live in that area. There will then be fewer polyps, and whichever larger animals eats these will not be able to eat. This will cause them to have to change food, and by doing this they may die out and put a dent in the food chain. When people damage coral reefs, they are also disturbing the home and food of other animals. Many animals under the sea have made the coral reefs their place to settle. When the coral is destroyed, thenthese animals have no place to live. When the coral is destroyed, it also affects the food that animals eat. It is not a good thing for the animals to eat the coral, but the animals still need food to eat, so they do that anyway. When the coral is killed, the animals that eat the polyps have less to eat, so they will have to change foods. This is not always good for the animal, and they may eventually die. The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system is in dangerous and critical condition cause 80% of the land adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef is farmland that supports agricultural production , intensive cropping of sugar cane, and major beef cattle grazing. These types of agriculture and cattle production pose large threats to the Great Barrier Reef close by. Fertilizers are highly used with agriculture and contain high amounts of phosphorous and nitrates. Farmers use nitrogen fertilizers frequently because it is an essential nutrient for crop and animal production, both found on the area near the coral reefs. If the farmers over feed or fertilize with the N fertilizers, it can be lost to ground water and surface water. These nutrients cause massive algae growth that leads to depletion in oxygen available for other creatures and decreasing the biodiversity in those affected areas. (Bell RPF, 1992) It also leads to algae blooms that take over sections of coral, blocking the sunlight and hurting its ability to survive.
Ocean Pollution and Its Impact on Coral Reefs
Humans now dominate most of the earth's ecosystems, both land and water. Between one-third and one-half of the land surface has been modified by human activity and the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere has increased by nearly 30 percent since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (Vitousek et al., 1997). Species have been driven to extinction, particularly birds. At the present, scientists are even beginning to believe that human action might extinguish some marine species that spend their whole lives in the ocean (Malakoff, 1997). Multiple assaults on the ocean affect everything from fish to coral reefs. The intention in this analysis is to explore how ocean pollution affects coral reefs and potential ways to provide protection or restoration.
Coral reefs are actually a living organism, beginning their evolutionary process approximately 200 million to 400 million years ago. They cover approximately 231,660 square miles of the ocean. Coral reefs are colonies of small animals, called polyps, attached to the skeletons of earlier polyps. These polyps are akin to anemones, with columnar bodies surrounded by tentacles. They live in a calcium-based cup which develops from their own secretions. They also have their own symbiont algae which help them process nutrients. Essentially, coral reefs are slow-growing colonies which create vast ecosystems that are thousands of yea ation rate and reef-building (Pennisi, 1998). Ocean pollution itself has many different kinds of impact on the coral reefs, as there are many different kinds of pollution. For example, pollution in the form of fertilizer leads to increased algae bloom, which can replace coral reefs. Pollution in the form of heavy metal and various forms of industrial waste can simply poison both the reefs and the fish that colonize them. The estimate is that in 1989 more than 16 trillion gallons of sewage and industrial waste were dumped into rivers and coastal waters, with much of that dumped in rivers and other waterways eventually reaching the ocean. As Hogshire (1990) noted, that does not count the garbage and trash from beachwalkers, boaters, oil spills, oil platforms, and pipeline failures, nor the vast quantities of radioactive waste that were dumped into the ocean between 1946 and 1970, including at least 89,472 drums of radioactive waste that are still unaccounted for. It is important to understand that until very recently nations and people have thought of the ocean as a very good place to dump wastes, anything that they did not know what to do with, since it was a very large place and the waste was immediately lost from sight.