The Global Coral Reef Crisis
Much of our work focuses on the protection of coral reefs. This is because coral reefs are the most vulnerable of all the major ecosystems on the planet. We've lost 50% of corals in the last 30 years. The combination of pollution, overfishing, ocean acidification and especially the committed ocean warming already in the system, means the vast majority of remaining coral reefs will be lost by mid century. What we do over the next few years will determine the future of this amazing ecosystem - possibly the most biodiverse on the planet.
Coral reef protection represents a step change in conservation. We've gone from protecting a single species or area, to needing to protect a critical global ecosystem that has been around for 500 million years. The importance of saving coral reefs cannot be overstated. It's not just the fight to save over a million species, or the food supply for over 500 million people, in the poorest of nations. Coral reefs provide us with one of the greatest opportunities for raising awareness of ocean change and communicating the need for action. Global coral bleaching, a new phenomenon, where reefs are literally turning white from the heat, is the most visible indicator of ocean change. It is a communication opportunity we need to maximise.
To save coral reefs in time we need to stabilise the ocean. Stabilising the ocean is fundamentally important to all of humanity, not just coral reefs.
Coral - a worthy hero
The ocean is the source of life on Earth and life in the ocean has had over 5 times longer to evolve than life on land. Nothing demonstrates this better than coral. These are creatures that have been around for 500 million years and have evolved in ways we are only just starting to comprehend:
- They build structures bigger and more complex than anything built by man. The cities of the sea, supporting 25% of all fish life in the sea.
- They evolved to 'farm' food, long before humans even existed - growing plant-like cells in their body tissue so they can live in virtually nutrient-free environments. They feed off the sun's energy through these cells that they grow rather than having to hunt for food.
- They have even evolved to be able to partially control their environment. When conditions get too hot for corals they can release a chemical into the atmosphere that causes clouds to form - a phenomenon observed by Charles Darwin.
Corals are quite simply amazing. However corals have evolved to thrive in a world without humans. Human induced ocean change is more rapid than at anytime in millions of years and corals simply can't evolve quickly enough to cope. They need our help. They need your help.