CORAL REEFS - POLYPS IN PERIL


Uploaded by WorldResourcesInst on 09.07.2012

Transcript:

Hello, I'm Celine Cousteau. I'd like to talk about the vital role coral reefs play
in the health of our planet.
Not only the health of our oceans, they also play a vital role in our health,
and our economy.
Corals are, in a sense, animal, mineral, and vegetable. Corals may look like rocks,
But they're actually little animals, called polyps, which live in colonies.
They filter feed at night and form their rock-like structures by secreting limestone.
Inside the tissue of each polyp lives a kind of algae, which uses sunlight
to synthesize food for the polyp.
The polyp and the algae are dependent on one another for food and shelter.
Coral reefs are the cradle of life in the ocean. It's where an enormous food web begins.
It's where much of our food web begins.
Coral reef fish provide a critical source of protein for millions of people around the world.
You may not realize that coral reefs provide so much more to us than just seafood.
Animals that live on the coral reef create unique chemicals that aren't found on land.
These chemicals are used to make important medicines and food supplements.
Reefs also provide an important barrier to protect coastal communities from storms and erosion.
Healthy coral reefs also attract divers and tourists.
And help to create the businesses that support them.
But the way we're harvesting seafood is destroying the reefs,
and all the potential the reefs have to provide for us in the future.
We're taking fish from the ocean at a rate that is completely unsustainable,
sometimes using destructive methods, like poison and blast fishing.
This disrupts an ecosystem that's been in balance for a very long time.
Certain species flourish, at the expense of other species.
With the removal of plant eating fish, algae grow rampant and smother the coral.
And we're harming reefs in other ways too.
Run-off from farms, industry, and coastal construction can bury coral reefs
with sediment and pollution; create algae blooms; and kill corals.
Our warming seas are causing coral bleaching, a process where polyps lose
their colorful algae and turn pale.
This further weakens the reefs.
And because the ocean is absorbing so much of that extra carbon dioxide,
that we are putting into the atmosphere, it is becoming more acidic,
which is making it harder for corals to grow.
At present, 60% of all reefs on the planet are already threatened by local activities,
mainly over-fishing and pollution.
Unless we can slow climate change and reduce over-fishing and pollution,
By 2030, 90% of coral reefs will be threatened.
By 2050, virtually all reefs will be threatened.
Without coral reefs, we'll not only lose an important food source,
but many communities will also lose their tourism and fishing economies,
and the coast will be much more vulnerable to storms and erosion.
We'll also lose an enormous amount of biological diversity,
which will close the door on all kinds of new potential medicines and other benefits.
Coral reefs are not condemned to extinction. Reefs are resilient and can recover.
And there are ways YOU can help!
For example, try to become more aware of the seafood you're eating:
what it is,
where it came from, and how it was caught.
When you vacation, choose tourism and hotel operators
who treat the ocean environment responsibly.
Also, try to lower your CO2 footprint.
Marine protected areas, a kind of aquatic nature preserve,
are becoming one of the most important elements of reef conservation. And they need your support.
Also, find a favorite nonprofit group that's working to help conserve coral reefs,
and support it. And finally...
Vote for a conservation candidate.
And spread the word.
With your help,
we can increase the chances that coral reefs will survive into the future,
and benefit people,
for many years to come.
Learn more at wri.org/reefs