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Why do we do it? We think corals count.
Reefs mean life
Coral reefs are one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet with thousandsof species relying on reefs for survival. Although coral reefs cover less than one percent of the ocean floor, they support an estimated 25 percent of all marine life.
Coral reefs are under increasing pressure from both man-made and natural forces, and are rapidly declining throughout the world. In order to improve the health of coral reefs, more data needs to be collected to fully understand the impacts that the reef is facing and how the reef is responding to these threats.
Although Australia's reefs are among the best managed in the world, they are not immune to these threats. Reef Check Australia is regularly monitoring and reporting on reef health, and increasing awareness about these threats to inspire action to combat the threats to the reef.
Many benefits of coral reefs
Coral reefs are incredibly diverse ecosystems that provide habitat for thousands of marine species. Additionally, coral reefs provide many important benefits to humans. Coral reefs provide fish and shellfish as food for local communities as well as a livelihood for the commercial fishing industry. Tourism heavily relies on the health and beauty of the reef for diving, fishing, and boating activities, which provides significant income for local economies. The strong coral structure of the reef provides shelter to coastlines and coastal communities from severe storm events and tidal waves. Research also indicates that coral reef animals like sponges are an important source of medical cures for a number of diseases including, potentially, cancer.
Reefs are under threat by a combination of forces
Coral reef systems are naturally resilient and recover from storm events and other threats over time. Yet recent human activities and global warming are now impacting the reef at a greater intensity and frequency than ever before. The combined and constant impact of these threats provides little opportunities to reefs to adjust and recover. The list below includes many of the threats that coral reefs are facing today with additional information found through the links below.
Global Climate Change
Nutrient and fertilizer pollution
Recreation and Tourism
Crown of Thorns Starfish (COTS)
Striking the right balance
Sustainable use of natural resources means that resources continue to provide for similar use by future generations. Finding the right balance between resource use and the reef's capacity to maintain its health into the future is the challenge faced by managers. Reef Check Australia helps by providing more information on how the natural environment functions and how it reacts to human use. We also provide opportunities for individuals and communities to take an active role in appreciating, understanding and protecting reefs.
What is Reef Check Australia doing to help?
Reef Check Australia is helping coral reefs by providing more information on how the natural environment functions and how it reacts to human use. We are collecting long-term reliable data for our sites, and not only sharing our data withgovernment managers but inspiring communities to take action against these threats. With proper monitoring, management and protection, coral reefs can recover.
What can YOU do to help to help coral reefs?
There are many ways you can get involved and make a difference with Australia's coral reefs. Check out our "How can you help?" page to learn about our monitoring program, volunteer activities, Helping reefs from home and much more.