Coral reefs are called the rain forest of the ocean. It is a house for around 25% of marine species. Occupies less than 0.1% of ocean area .However this most diverse ecosystem is in danger today. Half of them are already destroyed. By 2050, 75% will face high to critical threat. Human intervention is the main reason for this rising issue.
What are coral reefs ?
Coral reefs are underwater ecosystem built by reef forming corals. These corals are formed by colonies of polyps and held together by calcium carbonate. They secrete carbonate exoskeleton to protect and support corals. Most of the reefs grow in warm, agitated, sunny conditions. Marine species like fish, cnidarians, molluscs, tunicates flourish in this living system. Fringing, barrier, platform and attol are the different types of coral reefs found.
Coral reefs renders ecosystem services in the form tourism,fisheries, and shoreline protection.The global economic value of coral reefs is estimated as US$ 375 million.
Causes for depletion of coral reefs
Increasing temperature : The rising temperature makes sea water unsuitable for algal growth. This adversely affects corals which feeds on algae. This condition is called coral bleaching
Over fishing: Disturbs food web. Destructive fishing using cyanide and explosives also a reason for coral reef depletion.
Acidification of Ocean: Increasing carbon dioxide levels in water leads to acidification. This results in dissolving of corals. According to scientists by 2085 the ocean water will start to dissolve corals all around world.
Coral Harvesting for Aquarium trade, jewelry etc
Physical Damage from coastal development ,quarrying,dredging etc
International organization like United Nations has come up with many initiatives to control the situation and also many countries has taken the issue seriously. Sustainable development goals 12,13,14 targets to revive this fragile ecosystem.
In many underdeveloped countries coral reef ecosystem provides livelihood .The biodiversity conservation can only have a second priority where empty stomachs cry louder.