World Reef Day is now the recurring annual day for the world to come together in awareness and activation to effect positive change for our world’s reefs.
World Reef Day aims to bring awareness to how coral reefs are hurt by human activity, including industrial pollution, plastic pollution, sewage, and chemical sunscreens.
World Reef Day promoters highlight change is possible through simple, everyday choices and spreading the message.
Coral reefs are unique and the most diverse marine ecosystems on Earth. They are believed to have existed for about 200 million years. It is estimated that it took corals about 50 million years to reach their present level of diversity.
They play a crucial role in supporting the flora and fauna in the marine ecosystem. They have, since time immemorial, provided us with food, pleasure and protection from storm and other natural calamities. They are also described as ‘underwater tropical rainforest, fairy land under water, biologist’s paradise, magnificent repository of resources, genetic garden, submerged meadows and treasure house of wealth’.
Coral reefs provide an important ecosystem for life underwater, protect coastal areas by reducing the power of waves hitting the coast, and provide a crucial source of income for millions of people. Coral reefs teem with diverse life. Thousands of species can be found living on one reef.
Coral reefs protect humanity from natural calamities. They provide revenue and employment through tourism and recreation. They provide habitats for fishes, starfish and sea anemones.
It has been assessed that one square kilometre of coral reef produces 20-35 mega tonnes of fishes sufficient to feed about 600 people annually.
As many as 10 percent of coral reefs have degraded; another 30 per cent are likely to disappear within the next 20 years across the globe. According to biologists, if proper conservation and management measures are not taken, all coral reefs of the Indo-Malayan region may disappear in the next 40 years.
Coral reefs face threats due to anthropogenic activities such as coastal development, destructive fishing methods and pollution from domestic and industrial sewage. They have been deteriorating at a faster rate due to increased sedimentation, over-exploitation and recurring cyclones. One island in Thoothukudi region of Tamil Nadu has disappeared.