A healthy coral reef is a diverse, highly productive community of marine organisms, succeding the improvement of nutrient poor waters. Coral reefs are n important part of the ocean’s ecosystem.
There are many causes of the coral reef destruction whether they come naturally such as wave and storm or from human activities like overfishing, dynamite fishing, etc.
Moreover, the effects from the destructive may impact on coral reefs directly or through a longer period. These are 20 Effects of Coral Reefs Destruction that you should be aware about.
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1. Habitat loss for herbivorous fish species
Coral reefs are the main habitat for herbivorous fish species such as parrotfish, rabbitfish, surgeonfish, damselfish and coralfish. Herbivorous fish feed mainly on plant material. These fish rely on those coral reefs to get their nutrition and the coral reefs can also get the benefits from those fish in return.
For an example, the parrot-fishes play a key role in maintaining coral reef health through their feeding activities. The parrotfishes spend up to 90% of their day eating algae off of coral reefs with their beak-like teeth and poop sand (up to 90 kg of it per year) keeping beaches beachy. Coral reef destruction have destroyed the habitat for the herbivorous fishes which have main role to keep the corals reefs and the ocean healthy.
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2. Increased disease susceptibility
An effect of coral reefs destruction that occurs to water are extreme sea temperatures. This temperature’s rise has weakened the corals and makes them more vulnerable to disease. The other factors that put corals in higher risk to catch disease are excess nutrients and physical damage.
Meanwhile, increased nutrients may improve the susceptibility of corals to infection and the rate of progression of disease. High amount of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus may also increase the growth rates of some disease-causing microbes. The increase of turbidity, nutrients and algal blooms can also contribute in the higher susceptibility of corals to disease.
3. Coral’s damage
The direct effects of the coral reefs destruction is the damage on the corals themselves. The dynamite from blast fishing has enough strength to destroy fragile coral’s colonies in just one blast. Even the smallest piece of dynamite can explode an area of an half to one meter in diameter. The damaged corals will either die or get stressed. Dying corals results from severe damage while the continuous disturbances from the dynamite’s wave will put the surviving corals into stress.
4. Coastlines are vulnerable of wave action and tropical storms
As the dynamite has destroyed the corals, the broken corals which couldn’t survive will die and vanish from their habitat. There will be no corals reef left and it makes the continental shelf free from the barriers which protect the coastline from harsh wave and hard tropical storms. Just like trees for the soil, the coral reefs keep the wave from reaching the coastline directly in high power.
5. Improbability of coral’s discovery
When the shallow part of the reef has experienced repeating blasts, it’s impossible for the broken coral reef to recover. Getting many destructive events has put the corals into stress that makes it hard for them to recover themselves. When the coral gets stressed, the algae leaves the coral tissues. There is no more symbiotic mutual-ism between the coral and the algae that helps the corals get their nutrition.
6. Disrupted carbon fixation
Corals reefs are said to be productive when it promotes the relatively high amount of “carbon fixation” that takes place in the systems. Corals use the dissolved carbon dioxide in the seawater to create new reefs. This gas conversion to limestone shell keep the carbon dioxide in the ocean in a normal level. Without coral’s activity, that gas will saturate the ocean and air mass above it. All lives would get the impacts from a higher carbon dioxide level.
7. Color change of the corals
An effect of the coral reef reef destruction that happens to the surviving corals is coral bleaching. Coral bleaching is the condition when the coral lost its color as the algae leave the corals. Algae, which is the food source for coral and gives colors to the corals, leaves the corals due the stress experienced by the corals. Although, coral bleaching doesn’t kill the corals, they actually suffer more stress that will lead to mortality.
8. Less productive algae
The corals and algae belong to a mutualistic relationship. The coral provides the algae with a safe environment and necessary compounds for photosynthesis. The algae produce oxygen and help the coral to get rid of wastes in return. Zooxanthellae is a photosynthetic algae in most reef-building corals. Zooxanthellae supply the coral with the products of photosynthesis like glucose, glycerol, and amino acids. Without corals, algae won’t find a right place for photosynthesis.
9. Less healthy sharks
Sharks and coral reefs have an important relationship. If the coral reefs are healthy, the sharks will be too. Coral reefs provide sharks with sources of prey. Sharks provide important roles for the coral reefs by cycling nutrients between it and the open ocean, removing invasive species, and getting rid of weak fish carrying disease. As the coral reefs disappear due to the destruction, the sharks will lose their nutrition sources.
10. Threats for marine reptiles’
Marine reptiles are also the victims of the effects of coral reef destruction. The sea turtles, sea snakes, and also marine iguana will get the impact if the coral reefs disappear. These marine reptiles feed on prey found in the coral reefs like crustaceans, herbivorous fish, etc. Destroying the coral reef means destroying the marine reptiles’ populations since they depend on the coral reef for food and shelter.
11. Economic deflation on tourism
As the coral reefs disappear, the underwater’s scenery becomes less attractive. This causes the tourists lose their interests on swimming in the ocean where the coral reefs are gone or broken. The local communities and the tourism companies will encounter the deflation if the incomes are declining.
12. Human’s food source deficiency
Human eats any fish for their daily nutrition. Fish contains omega-3 fatty acid that is important to keep human’s body healthy. Some of the fish that human needs are living in the coral reefs. Without coral reefs, several thousand fish species wouldn’t have a place to feed and breed. Larger fish will soon drop in population because coral fish won’t be available as their food sources. The coral reef and food web are quite inseparable.
13. Crustaceans’ habitat loss
Where there is a coral reef, there must be the crustaceans. On coral reefs, the crustaceans are part of one of the most diverse and complex ecosystems on Earth. Crustaceans are a main component of the diet of coral reef fishes. Wrasses are a key example and provide evidence for a trophic division within crustacean-feeding taxonomy. If the coral reefs existence are threatened, there will be many lives get the bad impacts too.
14. Erosion on the continental shelf
Like trees protecting the ground, that’s what coral reefs are for the shores. The ocean’s currents are powerful enough to easily erode beaches and shorelines without coral reefs underneath. As waves hit the reefs, the water is forwarded and slowed down to preserve the shoreline. The currents themselves may change path permanently without reefs in place, promoting climate change since warm and cold water mix differently across the globe.
15. Poor nutrient recycle
The success of the coral reefs come from the tight recycling of nutrients in the system of the corals. In the corals, the tiny plants and animals live together in a symbiosis that provide fundamental nutrients in a quite effective way. However, too much liquid nutrient input can damage them. As the coral reef are unhealthy due to coral reefs destruction, the nutrient recycle will not be succeed.
17. Imbalance pH
Corals rely on a specific pH balance to extract calcium from the seawater to create calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is a material to compose the stony structures of hard corals. Ocean acidification will be a negative effect of coral reef destruction by reducing the ability of corals to develop and their ability to recover from damage. Reef-building corals create the most bio-diverse and beautiful habitats in the ocean.
18. Medicine’s limited source
Today’s medicine uses the rainforest and coral reefs to develop lifesaving drugs. Without coral reefs existing in the open ocean, the important flora and fauna for some cancer-fighting drugs won’t be available to use on medical prescription. It’s very crucial to maintain the coral reefs health to extract medicines for human survival.
19. Poor toxic absorption
Global warming and weather events like El Nino are some natural causes that can destruct the life of the coral reefs. The heat stress from the global warming and El Nino cause the metabolism of coral algae to speed up. That condition creates toxins and causes coral colonies to starve to death.
20. Echinoderms’ habitat degradation