**World Reef Day: Why is a healthy reef ecosystem imperative for sustaining life?**
World Reef Day is celebrated annually on 1st June to create awareness of the imperative role of Coral reefs in our ecosystem.
According to the scientists from the University of Hawaii Manoa, of the world’s existing coral reefs, about 70-90% are predicted to disappear in the next 20 years.
**What is a Coral reef?**
A Coral reef is an underwater ecosystem that comprises colonies of corals that are held together by a building of calcium carbonate.
However, not all corals build reefs, the species that do are known as hermatypic corals or ‘hard corals’ as they extract calcium carbonate from seawater to create a hard, durable exoskeleton that protects their soft, sac-like bodies.
The other species of corals are known as ‘soft corals’, as they are flexible plant-like organisms. For example, Sea fans and Sea whips.
An individual coral is called a polyp and lives on the calcium carbonate exoskeletons of its ancestors, built over hundreds of thousands of years. Over centuries, these coral reefs gradually grow and become a massive feature of the marine ecosystem.
**Why it’s important to save our coral reefs?**
Coral reefs are one of the rarest and exquisite ecosystems on Earth. It is also one of the most endangered biodiversity hotspots in the world, due to the loss of its habitat as a result of mindless human activities.
It is a source of food and shelter for about 25 % of all marine species.
**Coral reef: an indicator of ocean-health**
A Coral reef can very well reveal the state of an ocean. Many scientists rely on it to ascertain the quality of an oceanic ecosystem.
In an ocean where there’s a coral reef ecosystem, all other marine ecosystems also flourish. Fishes and other ocean animals rely on the reef for protection, food, and most importantly their life support system.
**How is a healthy ecosystem beneficial for us?**
The advantages of a healthy reef ecosystem go beyond the ocean and are beneficial for the biodiversity at large. Know how?
– The Coral Reef ecosystem is essential for the plant and fish-life
– It contributes to a lively fishing industry
– Protects beaches and coastlines from erosion
– Acts as the oceans filter
– Provides life-saving medicines
**What is causing our coral reefs to die?**
Some of the major contributors to the discoloration of coral reefs are:
– Huge population influx (Unprecedented tourism activity threaten coral reefs)
– Rapid industrialization (Industrial pollution, plastic waste, untreated sewage immersed in ocean bodies)
– Distortion in natural food cycle due to human-interference
– Rising sea temperatures
– Habitat loss
**How to observe World Coral reef day?**
The day is an opportunity to spread the word about the need to conserve our rare and magical biodiversity hotspot. It can be observed by adhering to these simple, sustainable, and environmentally friendly activities:
– Saying no to single-use plastic
-Saying no to sunscreens made of nano zinc oxide (It intoxicates the reef ecosystem)
– Devising ways of proper waste disposal
– Curtailing our interference in natural ecological processes