Coral Reef Destruction Enviro-Quiz Challenge


Q: Sadly, what percentage of our coral reefs have already been destroyed?

a. 4%
b. 11%
c. 25%
d. 65%

Answer: 25%.

Congrats to our winner Sara from Olathe, KS!

Scientists believe more than a quarter of the world's coral reefs have already been destroyed by pollution and global warming. It's estimated that half of all coral reefs will disappear by the year 2040 if we don't take action to protect them. Because millions of species make coral reefs their homes, these habitats support immense biodiversity reaching from the bottom to the top of the food chain. These "rainforests of the sea" are currently being wiped out, damaged, and bleached at an alarming rate. The disappearance of this amazing marine life will also impact people around the world; scientists warn that the livelihoods of 500 million people are connected in some way to the existence of coral reefs.

Reefs face numerous threats ranging from the innocuous to the obvious:

- sunscreen

- destructive fishing techniques

- tourist activity

- pollution

- increasing ocean temperature

- mining

Climate change poses a double threat to reefs: as melting polar ice raises sea levels, coral must grow even higher to reach the same distance from the surface. Scientists estimate coral only grows at one-third of the rate the sea level does.

Global warming and pollution are also making the ocean more acidic, which weakens their skeletal structures.

Need more good reasons to help protect coral? Since reefs also act as natural barriers against storm outpours, their destrucion will mean less protection for beaches, shorelines, and hot tourist destinations. But these ecosystems are not just pretty places to visit; they're vital to our planet, our well-being, and our economies.

Believe it or not, you can make small lifestyle changes that will help preserve coral reefs:

  • Reduce fertilizer and pesticide use so fewer of these chemicals will reach your local river, the watershed your stream feeds into, and, finally, the ocean that's shared by billions of organisms.
  • Take a second look at the ingredients in your sunscreen before hitting the beach. Make sure your sunscreen doesn't contain harmful petrochemicals or nanotechnology - these chemicals potentially play an important role in coral bleaching.
  • Recycling and properly disposing of your trash ensures that it won't end up in our waterways or landfills which can create toxic runoff into the ocean.
  • Planning a visit to a coral reef?  When you snorkel or scuba dive, don't disturb the reef itself - resist the temptation to take home a piece of coral as a souvenir because you'll be taking home an endangered species! Watch your fins and gear to make sure they don't damage any coral. Also, try to stay off the ocean floor as disturbed sediment can smother coral.

What else can you do? Stay informed, and spread the word about what people can do to prevent reef destruction!


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Arthur Joel

I know there is plenty of evidence of coral destruction around inhabited areas... the culprit is us humans, but also a great deal of natural disasters. Is there a figure that speaks to the formation and thus regeneration in nature and what we can do to reinforce that natural process?


Another potential threat to the existence of coral reefs is the illegal harvesting for home aquarium display.

Other cause on the disappearance could also be attributed to the use of bottom fishing trawlers.

Concrete measures were also needed to address both these issues.


Scientists say that 20 percent of the world’ss coral reefs have already been destroyed,

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