START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good

10 Threats to the World’s Stunning Coral Reefs

  • 2 of 3

A formation of cauliflower coral, surrounded by Hawaiian domino.

4. Overfishing

Coral reefs often furnish a number of valuable food species, but unfortunately, humans don’t always manage fisheries responsibly. Consequently, species can become fished out, disturbing the balance of the reef environment. Not only that, but some fishers use destructive practices like adding chemicals to the water to stun fish, deep water trawling or using explosives to quickly startle fish to the surface of the water. These practices damage the coral and harm bycatch — the “useless” species that won’t be harvested. Likewise, crab and lobster traps can damage reefs by banging around in the current and entangling coral and other species in their ropes.

5. Development

Coastlines tend to make popular places for development. Historically, they were ideal for trade and other activities thanks to their proximity to major ports. Now, coastlines have become one of the most popular places in the world to live thanks to existing settlement and stunning views of the water, along with activities associated with the ocean like surfing, going to the beach and snorkling. Unfortunately for coral, development is bad news, because it increases pressures on already fragile reefs. Some cities that once had thriving reefs now have nothing left, while in other rapidly-developing areas, things are not looking good for coral reefs.

Tourism, closely related to development, is also linked with damage to coral reefs. Tourists who aren’t aware of environmental issues may directly damage coral by stepping on it, harvesting souvenirs to take home, or disrupting the marine environment. Meanwhile, boaters may dump waste in reefs as well as damaging coral by hitting it with propellers and anchors.

6. Radiation

Ever get a sunburn? Coral has some natural protections against UV radiation, but it’s not prepared for ozone depletion. As the Earth’s ozone has become thinned in spots, some corals are showing signs of damage caused by UV exposure; it’s not exactly like they can slap on a layer of sunscreen for additional protection in the face of increasing exposure.  Like other changes in the Earth’s atmosphere, ozone depletion is hard to fix, and it’s difficult to come up with a way to protect corals from it.

7. Mining

Coral jewelry is just one of many things made from coral. In addition to being used in souvenirs for tourists, coral is also removed for use in making roads, paths and various other products. This is especially common in nations with limited sources of income, which turn to their reefs and other natural wonders to meet their economic needs. Even though this puts substantial pressure on the environment, and eventually depletes reefs, these nations may have no other choice.

  • 2 of 3

Read more: , , , , , ,

Photo credits: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Anna Fox, USFWS - Pacific Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and USFWS - Pacific Region.

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it


+ add your own
9:09PM PDT on Jul 22, 2013

All caused by humans.......

3:44AM PDT on Jul 20, 2013

thanks for sharing :)

6:20PM PDT on Jul 6, 2013

When I've seen coral grow it doesn't seem to be reliant upon all that went on down the branch. So when they're cleaved off by storm or man's breaking it - why do the polyps die? Can't they go on building longer, thicker, or spread out to continue life/living? Are they like trees which need the roots to bring more nutrients? What is it they need from the polyps below that once broken off - they perish? If they have bacteria and chlorophyllic material they get sustenance from - why would breaking them make them die? I would think that no matter where they land - if not subverse from the sun they should be able to go on living and building more coral. I didn't think even the hollows of corals past made a difference to those higher up and vice-versa.

10:30AM PDT on Jul 3, 2013

Grazie per l'articolo.

8:13PM PDT on Jun 26, 2013


3:08PM PDT on Jun 24, 2013

has everyone seen the coral reefs; i haven't ....though i dreamed of doing so as a child.

10:45AM PDT on Jun 24, 2013

we must look after every living thing on this planet and anything we do is better than doing nothing at is a beautiful planet lets keep it that way!!!

5:16PM PDT on Jun 23, 2013

How sad. I have read this story several times and each time I've been left with nothing to say.

How sad. To lose the natural beauty of coral reefs. I do not swim, therefore I can only see the beauty second hand.

The World is losing so many beautiful things. For some reason this particular loss saddens me more, especially at a time we seem to be accumulating losses at an alarming rate.

How sad.

2:30PM PDT on Jun 23, 2013

Great article......Going to share with local scouts.....thank you!!!!!

2:26PM PDT on Jun 23, 2013

Great article......Going to share with local scouts.....thank you!!!!!

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

Care2 - Be Extraordinary - Start a Care2 Petition
ads keep care2 free

Recent Comments from Causes

Very small conservative minds are afraid of everyone who doesn't fit into their extremely narrow, evangelical…

ads keep care2 free

Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!