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Maneging coral reefs

Coral reefs are unique ecosystems of plants, animals, and their associated geological framework. The ocean equivalent of rainforests, they are home to 25% of all marine species, yet it is estimated that many of the world’s reefs will be destroyed or significantly damaged in the next 20 years because of the human and the physical damage put on to them. They grow in tropical seas in the photic zone, where there is mild wave action, not so strong to tear the reef apart yet strong enough to stir the water and deliver sufficient food and oxygen.

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Coral reefs also need nutrient-poor, clear, warm, shallow water to grow.

Human Threats to the Coral reefs

Tourist

There are a number of different human threats applied to the coral reefs, most of it which is caused by tourists. These activities are;

* Snorkelling- Inexperienced snorkellers can trample corals with their flippers. The can also damage the corals by getting to close and resting on the reefs.

* Boat trips- Cruses taking visitors out to the reefs are often careless when the drop their anchor. The anchor will crush the delicate corals with their weight. The water movements made by the boats travelling too fast will damage the corals the force applied to the corals underwater. When the boats get to close to the reefs, the hull tends to scrape past the corals, damaging them.

* Boat hire- Tourist don’t tend to know the local water, so when they hire a boat, they usually run it aground on a reef.

* Souvenirs- When tourists go snorkelling or scuba diving by the corals, they tend to pick corals for them to take home.

Fishing

It’s NOT always tourist how cause all the damage, but it’s also the fishermen. Their ways of catching fish is always a harm to corals. Their ways of fishing are;

* Dynamite fishing- Some fishers in poor countries, who fish by the coral reefs, often drop dynamites or other explosive into the reefs. When it explodes, it drives the fishes out of the corals and stuns or kills them. This makes it easier to collect the fishes. The explosion can blow corals apart and can send shock waves to the coral which are further away. This is a danger to the fishes and corals. Small organisms, especially coral polyps, are killed by the cyanide in this process. It also provides a new set of dangers to the fishermen.

* Metal Nets- When fishers use large mesh net to fish the corals reefs with, the corals get usually get stuck, and then get ripped off, when the boats drag the net behind them.

Physical threats to the coral reefs

There are also a number of physical threats applied top the coral reefs. They are;

* Sea level- Global warming causes the temperature to rise by 1 or2 centigrade per century. It may not seem much, but it affects the sea because the sea level rises by 15-95 cm. A rise in temperature causes the icebergs to melt. The melted sea water is added to the sea, and makes the sea level rise. The means that the sea becomes deeper. If the sea becomes deeper, the corals will start to lack in sunlight. Corals need warm and shallow water.

* Soil Erosion- When soil erodes, the soil usually ends up in a river, and then gets carried down to the sea. The soil can then be deposited on the corals. If this happens, the corals would be covered in sand, and they won’t be able to intake any sunlight. It is usually caused by poor use of land.

* Climate change- Changes to the weather patterns can cause problems for the coral reefs. Hurricanes are now striking more and more frequently, and the have becomes stronger. This is all to blame on the global warming. Hurricanes can have a devastating impact on the coral reefs because of its increased wave energy. Sediments generated during storms can bury the coral communities.

Ways to prevent human damages to coral reefs

Tourist

There might be a lot of human threats to the coral reefs which can damage them, but there are also a number of ways to prevent the damages which are caused to them. These ways are;

* Snorkelling- Inexperienced snorkellers should need to take an experienced snorkeller with them. Like they do driving licences, they should do snorkelling licences.

* Boat trips- When cruses take people to see the reefs, they can drop the anchors somewhere by the reefs, where there are no fishes or corals. The movements made by fast boats can be prevented by putting a speed limit by the coral reefs.

* Boat hire- When tourists hire a boat, the hiring agency should give them a driver who knows the local water, to steer the boat around the coral reefs.

* Souvenirs- Instead of tourist picking corals from the reefs, the government should pick dead corals, and sell the in gift shops.

Fishing

There are also ways to prevent damage cause by fishing, if we prevent fishing by the corals, the fishmongers will become bankrupt, and there would be much more poverty. But if we don’t prevent fishing by the reefs, in the years to come, the rare types of fishes will be extinct. The ways fishing can be prevented are;

* Dynamite fishing- Dynamite fishing can be prevented is banned. If people still continue, there should be a watchman for the each reef, patrolling the reefs for any dynamite fishers.

* Metal Nets- Instead of using large mesh nets, the fishers should use nets made out of roots and vines because corals won’t break and if the nets get stuck, the fishes can always eat them.

Ways to prevent physical damage to the coral reefs

The physical threats applied to the coral reefs are mostly caused by global warming. Most of it can be prevented if less CO2 is used, but there are many other ways to prevent these. They are;

* Sea level- It is hard to prevent the sea level from rising, is still possible. This can be done if the amount of carbon dioxide produce is less than before. We can shorten the amount by using less energy, stop the usage of non-renewable fuels and use our cars less and less.

* Soil erosion- Soil erosion can be prevented by planting more trees on the land. This will keep the soil together and prevent the soil from washing away when it rains heavily.

* Climate change- Hurricanes and other powerful storm are nearly impossible to prevent. It wouldn’t be normal if they don’t strike, but reducing the amount of CO2 would help to reduce the speed of the storms.

If the damage continues at the same rate as it is now, in the next few centuries to come, the coral reefs and their inhabitants would be extinct. In my opinion, the tourist industry is causing most of the damage. The coral reefs should be all made into a nature park, where tourist would have a guide to take them around the corals and tell them about the dangers of them being extinct. Fishing by the coral reefs should be banned by the government. If all these improvements are made, the fragile ecosystem would be around for the next generation of people to see them.