Choosing Coral Reefs is Choosing Humanity

Choosing Coral Reefs is Choosing Humanity

June 7, 2022
Signatures: 42Next Goal: 50
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Why this petition matters

Started by Kadence J.

For hundreds of thousands of years, coral has slowly laid the foundation for life in the oceans. Now, humans are threatening the existence of all species of coral. If coral goes extinct, many species will follow and humanity will suffer. 

In a hypothetical world without coral reefs, tsunamis, hurricanes, and exceptionally strong tides have devastated coastlines across the world. Coastal communities have been swept away by the raging ocean or starved after the fish population died out and the oceans became barren.

To understand how these catastrophic circumstances could come to pass, it is important to understand what coral is and what role it plays. Coral is alive and classified as a very basic animal. Individual corals (called polyps) fuse together to create coral reefs, which are living habitats. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that despite covering less than 0.1% of ocean surface area, coral reefs support over 32% of all discovered marine species by providing food and shelter. Therefore, coral reefs are amongst the  world’s most biodiverse ecosystems (UNEP). The Great Barrier Reef—the largest and most complex reef system on Earth—single handedly supports an estimated 1,500 fish species, 4,000 mollusc species, and 6 of 7 species of sea turtle according to the Natural History Museum.

Coral reefs are also a vital commodity to communities and countries that rely on fishing as a source of income and food. If a reef is struggling to survive, the number of fish available to be caught will plummet. Healthy coral can also generate more tourism, which sustains the restaurant and hospitality industries. 

Coral also plays a crucial role in protecting coastlines. Coral reefs usually grow in shallow waters near the coast, and for this reason they are capable of reducing wave strength by as much as 97% (NHM). This is how coral serves as a barrier from storms and extreme weather events. 

Globally, it is estimated that more than 1 billion people are directly reliant on coral reefs for their livelihoods, food security, and wave protection (UNEP).

Coral health has been rapidly deteriorating in recent years. According to a 2021 study published in the scientific journal One Earth, 50% of the world’s reefs have died since 1950. The reefs that remain are also in peril; the UNEP warns that 90% of surviving reefs may disappear by 2050. These frightening trends are a result of overfishing, pollution, and perhaps most significantly, rising temperatures of ocean water (UNEP).

Coral conservation is a choice. We need to be prioritizing the health of coral reefs on the global and local scales. As individuals, we can help protect coral by:

Donating: There are many non-profit organizations dedicated to coral research and restoration. Organizations worth donating to include the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) and the Global Coral Reef Alliance (GCRA). The GRCA has made significant scientific contributions to coral reef restoration efforts, and CORAL is extremely dedicated to educating communities in Honduras, Hawaiʻi, and Mexico on how to care for their local reefs.

Volunteering: Becoming involved with non-profits which are directly focused on coral reefs is ideal, but may not be possible depending on your geographic location. Other options include participating in efforts to clean your local watersheds, which will eventually empty into the ocean and may impact coral colonies hundreds of kilometers away. 

Consume Responsibly: If your diet includes seafood, be conscious of what brands you are buying from. Overfishing and other harmful fishing practices are partially responsible for the destruction of coral reefs. Purchase from companies that embody sustainable fishing. For more information, check out 

Pressure Governments: Demanding action from government officials can prompt them to legally create Marine Protected Areas around coral reefs. If you are passionate about saving coral reefs near your home country, write open letters to your Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (or the equivalent office) to encourage them to do more for these valuable marine habitats. 

Sign: By signing this petition, you will raise awareness for the dire circumstances facing coral and the people who depend on it. 


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Signatures: 42Next Goal: 50
Support now