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What are they? Corals are colonies of small animals living in an area with a low level of nutrients. Coral reefs are underwater structures made from calcium carbonate. They take up less that 0.1% ofthe world’s oceans however it is home to 25% of all marine species.
Global Location Coral reefs are usually located in the Pacific ocean and flourish best in clear shallow warm waters. The map below shows the location of coral reefs around the globe.
Environmental Benefits It houses 25% of all marine species in the world. This includes fish, molluscs, echinoderms and sponges. It also provides shoreline protection via friction which causes things such as tsunamis to slow down and therefore cause less damage.
Social and Economic Benefits Coral reefs provide a key economic service. Coral reefs around the globe are valued at approximately $30 Billion!!! They are especially good for tourism as many people like to visit and see these by Scuba Diving.
Why are they at risk? Coral reefs have been suffering a major threat from climate change, ocean acidification, blast fishing, cyanide fishing for aquarium fishing. This has been increasing for the past 10 – 20 years High nutrients around coral reefs from agricultural runoff cause and increase in algae growth which ultimately causes the coral reef to die. Other risks that threaten coral reefs are coral mining, pollution, over fishing and the digging of canals. It is estimated that 10% of the world’s coral reefs have already died at that 60% are at risk of human threats. 80% of the coral reefs in South East Asia are endangered.
Strategies to protect them! MPAs or Marine Protection Areas are on of the most prominent forms of reef management. They promote responsible fishing practices and habitat protection. In Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and is the subject of much legislation, including a Biodiversity Action Plan.