Coral Reefs

Coral reefs: the base of our marine ecosystems, supporters of our fisheries, tourism industry, and shoreline protection. Unfortunately, such a valuable part of the marine ecosystem is up against harmful fishing practices, coastal construction, marine pollution, warming seas, and ocean acidification. With 60% of our coral reefs expected to be dead and gone in the next 30 years our reefs face an uncertain future. With the proper management the coral reefs can make a comeback. This initiative is dedicated to coral reef conservation, restoration, and research. 

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Corals are living animals that slowly create limestone reefs and are found mostly in shallow, tropical seas. Thousands of different species of corals, fish, sponges, sharks, sea turtles, marine mammals, and invertebrates call these reefs home. Healthy coral reefs are critical to human communities—they protect our shores from storms, provide the seafood we eat, and attract divers and tourists.

Coral reefs are being destroyed by coastal construction and harmful fishing practices such as explosives and bottom trawling. Dragging a weighted net along the ocean’s floor catches not only fish, but also corals that are centuries old. This can leave the surrounding marine ecosystem permanently damaged or in a state of recovery that could take hundreds of years.  

 They also suffer the indirect consequences of human activities—such as marine pollution, warming seas, and ocean acidification—which can cause outbreaks of coral bleaching and disease, decimating the entire reef system. Corals are incredibly sensitive to the changes that warmer water temperatures and higher carbon dioxide levels bring, and both of these things can stress the corals out. When corals are stressed, they turn white due the rejection of the tiny algae that they live in harmony with. This algae also helps feed the corals through photosynthesis as well as give them their vibrant colors. Without the algae, the corals will not be able to survive long-term. 

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Our Coral Reef Initiative provides grants to projects that focus on better management of fisheries and tourism development, development of sustainable coral reef products, establishment of marine reserves, and scientific research that can lead to new breakthroughs in medicine and biotechnology.

Corals reefs are at the base of our marine ecosystems, and even though they may cover not even 1% of the ocean floor, they still support approximately 25% of all marine animals. Coral reefs are valuable to our fisheries, tourism, and they provide shoreline protection, but unfortunately 27% of coral reefs are destroyed and gone. This number could rise to 60% in the next 30 years. Please help us reverse this trend and donate to the Coral Reef Initiative!  

 

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