When you think of an endangered species, you think of a mountain gorilla, or a Tiger. You don't think of a coral reef. Why not? Because we all tend to think of coral as some kind of rock or plant, and rocks and plants are not endangered species. Coral reefs are actually communities of hundreds of thousands of tiny animals called coral polyps, which grow in the sunlit shallows of warm, clear seas. The reefs are built up as new corals attach atop the skeletons of their dead ancestors.
So why should we care if they're on the endangered list? Well, aside from preventing erosion from the sea, and helping to create those beautiful white sandy beaches that we love so much, coral reefs are home to about a third of all fish species on Earth, not to mention the countless other marine organisms that hang out there. They are the staple at the bottom of the food chain, without which that same third of all fish species would die, which would then knock on to the rest of the marine environment, which would then knock on to the animal kingdom of which we are very firmly a part.
Not only that though, we have only just begun to realise how many medical properties and benefits are contained within the reef. Certain corals can be used to replace bone in bone graft operations and has been proven to work in a similar way to human bone. There are any number of medicines, cures and antibodies in the reef and its ecosystem that we have not even begun to understand. If we destroy them all we may never know.
These complex and fragile ecosystems are deteriorating at an alarming rate worldwide. This is not just a problem for scuba divers; it's down to all of us.
Now is the time to take action. See what you could do here.