Protect Coral Reefs
Coral reefs are dying around the world. In particular, coral mining, agricultural and urban runoff, pollution (organic and inorganic), overfishing, blast fishing, disease, and the digging of canals and access into islands and bays are localized threats to coral ecosystems. Broader threats are sea temperature rise, sea level rise and pH changes from ocean acidification, all associated with greenhouse gas emissions. In 2011, researchers suggested that "extant marine invertebrates face the same synergistic effects of multiple stressors" that occurred during the end-Permian extinction, and that genera "with poorly buffered respiratory physiology and calcareous shells", such as corals, were particularly vulnerable.
In El Nino-year 2010, preliminary reports show global coral bleaching reached its worst level since another El Nino year, 1998, when 16% of the world's reefs died as a result of increased water temperature. In Indonesia's Aceh province, surveys showed some 80% of bleached corals died. Scientists do not yet understand the long-term impacts of coral bleaching, but they do know that bleaching leaves corals vulnerable to disease, stunts their growth, and affects their reproduction, while severe bleaching kills them. In July, Malaysia closed several dive sites where virtually all the corals were damaged by bleaching.
To find answers for these problems, researchers study the various factors that impact reefs. The list includes the ocean's role as a carbon dioxide sink, atmospheric changes, ultraviolet light, ocean acidification, viruses, impacts of dust storms carrying agents to far-flung reefs, pollutants, algal blooms and others. Reefs are threatened well beyond coastal areas.
General estimates show approximately 10% of the world's coral reefs are dead. About 60% of the world's reefs are at risk due to destructive, human-related activities. The threat to the health of reefs is particularly strong in Southeast Asia, where 80% of reefs are endangered. By the 2030s, 90% of reefs are expected to be at risk from both human activities and climate change; by 2050, all coral reefs will be in danger.
Current research is showing that ecotourism in the Great Barrier Reef is contributing to coral disease.