When viewing picturesque underwater landscapes, aside from the blue depths, rarely do we come across anything remotely as beautiful as coral reefs. However, these beautiful coral constructions are undoubtedly threatened, with up to 75 percent being in great danger.
Why are they endangered?
Unfortunately, the main cause of the damage coral reefs sustain is the human influence, whether direct or indirect. Indirectly, they are affected by the climate change that causes the temperature of the oceans to rise and by the excessive release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which, in turn, makes the oceans more acidic. Directly, coral reefs are affected by such actions as dynamite fishing, excessively hunting the species inhabiting the coral reefs, sunscreen use, water pollution, and many other factors that stem from human actions. However, one good thing is that coral reefs are not permanently damaged by these factors, but that they tend to heal.
Is everything in order, then?
No –because there are so many dangerous factors for corals everywhere, they do not manage to recover quickly enough, and this is the reason they are disappearing all over the globe. However, scientists, who are aware of this, are working on helping the corals make a speedy recovery, and in that way, preserve these precious underwater ecosystems.
How do scientists go about doing it?
There are several methods that are successfully implemented in restoring coral reefs to their previous glory. The most important one would probably be coral transplanting. This process mostly consists of growing corals on an artificial structure, and once they reach a satisfactory size, they are planted on the damage reefs. This is not the only method used in reef restoration; there were also some theories about genetically engineering corals that would be more resistant to hot or acidic water; however, it is still a theoretical possibility, and is still researched. As far as more concrete ways of helping go, scientists reintroduce fish and other forms of life whose influence is essential for the survival of the ecosystems of the reefs. Fish, for example, feed on algae that disrupt coral growth and produce nitrogen that promotes the growth of good algae, that help create the delicate balance of these organic systems.
Prevention of further problems
It is important to note that it isn’t enough to just fix the problem as it is now; measures need to be taken to prevent something similar from ever happening in the future. For example, numerous organizations and societies are formed, that dedicate themselves to the protection of coral reefs; many countries started passing laws that prevent overfishing and regulate carbon dioxide emissions. By working together, we can all prevent such catastrophes from ever occurring again.