It’s a beautiful day in your small portion of the world, the sun is shining brightly and you’ve just met with some friends after a long day spent hard at work. You and your co-workers are currently in the midst of a building project for your community’s infrastructure. The wonderful thing about this specific building project is that it is going to house a large portion of your family, your friends, and your loved ones.
Apart from providing you and those you care about with shelter, this addition will do so much more. Thousands of jobs will be created, it will protect neighboring communities from massive storms and it will even create a bustling tourism economy. The only issue is that this living space, other spaces like theirs, and your entire community are in grave danger. The threats to your way of life and the livelihood of so many are becoming unavoidable and if something isn’t done, the decline will continue.
The above may feel like a bad dream, like a vision of a utopian society, where symbiosis is in full effect with serving everyone equally, but is being threatened by a great unknown force. What is even scarier is the fact that this situation is not at all fabricated, but representative of a very real, dire issue. One that is going on beneath the surface of our wondrous oceans.
Importance of Coral Reefs
Canadian corals live in cold water and are hugely responsible for the development of important aquatic ecosystems. Living organisms such as sea stars, shrimp, and anemones rely heavily on the protection of the corals for their ability to avoid predators, rest, gain nourishment, and spawn. In certain depths of the oceans there exists such little structure that without the protection of the coral, there would be nothing else for these living organisms.
Cold water corals in Canada are vital to the careful balance of our aquatic ecosystems. Around the world, different types of coral make up the reefs in both hot and cold climates. Reefs provide a safe haven for ocean animals, which in turn contributes to a large amount of the food that millions of humans depend on. Apart from being a large source of food, these reefs also act as protection against large storms and erosion. If their environmental importance wasn’t already apparent, coral reefs also provide a large number of jobs that range from coral management services to a multi-million dollar tourism industry.
Is Coral an Animal?
Something you may not know is that coral refers to the living animal organism that is responsible for the construction of reefs. Coral Polyps are the specific invertebrate in charge of creating the structure within coral reefs. They range in size from less than one centimeter in diameter to larger than a foot. These fascinating organisms endure a process in which they use the calcium carbonate from seawater to form hardened rock-like outer shells. They may look like rocks on the sea floor, but they are fully alive and make up the structure of the coral reefs, which contribute to general ocean health.
What are Threatening Coral Reefs and General Ocean Health?
Coral reefs are being threatened and damaged by a number of primarily human-made occurrences. Ocean Dredging (the act of scraping the base of the ocean floor in order to remove excess sediment) is one item on a dangerous list of threats posed to healthy coral life. Coastal development, coral diseases, pollution, ocean warming, and acidification are other large contributors to the decline of coral and ocean health.
Ocean Warming: The rising of ocean water temperatures due to increased levels of carbon dioxide being absorbed.
Ocean Acidification: Chemical change that is taking place within the ocean due to the rise in C02 being absorbed by the water. It changes the balance in the underwater environment, making it difficult for certain aquatic life to survive and adding to the prevalence of the disease.
Hope for Coral Sustainability
Though coral damage is a prominent issue, there may be a solution that relies on the corals themselves. Recently, The University of California and The University of Florida found that introducing corals with disease-resistant qualities to those more susceptible to infection may present a solution to coral damage. Diversifying the species of coral living together, there is more ability to protect from disease, while corals living in monocultures are much more likely to spread disease and die. In some cases, the proximity to disease-resistant corals helped other struggling corals to become more resistant.
In Human Terms: Imagine a group of like-minded individuals, working to solve a workplace issue with little to no avail. The issue begins to overcome them and their inability to solve it becomes devastating to the rest of their productivity, so they call in someone new. This individual brings with them a fresh and creative abundance of strategies to solve the problem. As the workplace issue begins to resolve, the initial employees are able to go back to their designated tasks, and productivity resumes. The introduction of a new employee with different skills not only helped to solve the issue, but it allowed initial employees to gain new skills, making the company stronger as a whole.
What is Coral Gardening?
Coral gardening refers to the practice of introducing corals that are disease resistant to existing coral reef structures that may be suffering. This creates a level of genetic diversity that is proving to be important within struggling coral systems. The addition of strong corals to weaker corals creates an environment where it is very difficult for diseases to survive. The findings from The University of California, and The University of Florida’s testing that took place in the Caribbean showed that there is importance in coral diversity if we want to see diseased corals saved. The intentional organization and partnerships of corals in the world’s oceans can potentially aid in the rescue of endangered coral reefs.
This is just the beginning for coral rescue and we at GuidED encourage you, as always, to learn more about important issues like ‘how coral arrangements may present a viable rescue solution’. We hope that our shared love of the outdoors, the environment, and humanity encourages you to do your own research on topics like these. Here are a few links to articles we found to be insightful for this subject: Coral diseases, Coral Reef Ecosystems, and Canadian Coral Conservation.
To learn more about this specific study click here and visit us at guided.ca for more information on important environmental issues and nature updates.