Coral reefs have been called the nurseries of the ocean because of their capacity to nurture and sustain marine life. One quarter of all fish spend some part of their life on a reef. Now these nurseries are disappearing faster than the rainforests. As of today, one-quarter is dead, and sixty percent are in trouble. Global warming is raising the temperature of the water and increased CO2 is making that water more acidic. Corals depend on carbonate ions to grow. Acidity destroys this capacity, as well as the zooxanthellae that protect and feed the coral. If zooxanthellae cannot flourish, the coral bleaches and eventually dies.
Global warming is not the only culprit. We contribute to this decline by overfishing, killing many of the species that maintain a reef’s bio-system. Tourism resorts built on reclaimed land often destroy coral reefs or produce sediment that restricts their ability to grow. Chemical pollutants and fertilizers stimulate algal blooms that smother the coral or block the sun. Without photosynthesis there is no zooplankton, and without zooplankton there is no coral.
Deep Sea Corals are being Strip-Mined by Bottom Trawlers!
It has only been a few decades since scientists have been studying deep-sea corals, discovering that many species of corals also live in the dark ocean depths where they are more abundant than in the tropics. While changes to the physical and chemical properties of the oceans due to global warming and the emission of greenhouse gases may have an indirect effect on deep-sea corals, bottom trawling fishing poses the most immediate danger.
Bottom trawlers drag weighted nets along the sea floor, scraping it bare as they scoop up everything in their path. Corals, as well as any unintended species of fish, are called “bycatch” that trawlers throw overboard, dead or dying. A single pass of a trawl removes up to 20% of the seafloor flora and fauna.
Corals and coral reefs have been with us for millions of years. We could lose most of them in just a few decades. Do your part. Pledge to take action. Help repair our reefs and save our deep-sea corals!
What can you do?
If we don't to stop global warming, coral bleaching will kill most of the world's reefs by 2100.
Canada's deep-sea corals provide food & shelter for sealife but are largely unprotected.