I want to spread a message to everyone who loves the ocean and getting out on the water. Taking care of our coral reefs is very important and protecting them is something that all of us can help to do.
Terry Lilley is a Marine Biologist and activist for Hawaii and California’s coral reefs: “The world’s coral reefs are facing a massive decline due to accelerated climate change, rising sea levels, human-made pollution, ocean acidification, over development & other human based activities, this is truly an anthropogenic era.”*
Anthropogenic? What does that mean? According to the dictionary it is “ the environmental pollution resulting from the influence of human beings on nature.”
Hawaii has been facing a problem with its coral reefs. Coral reef is basically an animal that grows, eats and reproduces. According to Terry Lilley, here on Kauai (the island where I live), about 5% of Hanalei Bay’s reef and 40% of Anini’s coral reef has been infected with this milky white growth that has been spreading at an alarming rate. Some of our reefs have Black Band Disease
Scientists who have identified this strange growth have said that it is both a Cyanobacterial pathogen, which is a bacteria that grows through photosynthesis and a fungus that kills all bits of the coral it touches. Scientist also say that it spreads one to three inches every week on all of the coral it infects. Lilley says, “This bacteria has been killing coral as old as 50-100 years in less than eight weeks.” Scientist have estimated that 30% of coral will be destroyed or ruined in the next 10 years. However, This fungus is not the only thing threatening coral reef, poisonous runoff, rising oceans and overfishing are also other factors that are threatening to our local reefs.
Coral reefs provide shelter, food and protection for many important species of marine life. They also protect harbors, beaches and shoreline from erosion and wave damage. They are also beautiful to see! Hawaii’s reef has more than 7,000 species of marine plants and animals. If we lost all of our reefs the effect on our marine life would be devastation.
Hawaii has a State Division of Aquatic Resources* whose strategy is to get a grip on this situation and raise awareness through activities, community service, on land projects and to enforce coral reef protection by increasing the understanding of the threats on coral reefs.
Some things we can do to help prevent damage from happening on these beautiful and vital reefs is to reduce pollution, dispose of our trash properly, volunteer for beach cleanups, conserve water, learn more about it and most importantly spread the word!
*Reef Guardians is a non-profit that wants to share scientific data with the world to help create a better understanding and find solutions for how we can protect our coral reefs.