Coral reefs are dying at an alarming rate.
In the Caribbean 98% of reef building hard corals have died since the late 1980’s due to:
- pollution from chemicals & fertilizer
- global warming
- increasing ocean acidification
- severe weather events
- damaging fishing practices
- careless recreational divers and boaters
Though many parts of our planet are far from oceans (including landlocked Colorado where I live), behaviours and practices in these places affect the oceans and reefs in profound and subtle ways.
In Denver, Colorado specifically, our waterways flow to the Platte River that joins the Missouri River, eventually meeting the Mississippi River and flowing down to Louisiana, finally emptying into the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.
Chemical waste from mining, agriculture and industry, flow down these waterways and into the Gulf and Caribbean, particularly polluting the waters near the coastlines where coral reefs are found.
These reefs need access to sunlight and nutrients to grow so they can offer the most protection to coastal lands from severe weather events. It is here, close to land in shallow waters that reefs are also the most susceptible to impact from fertilizers, chemicals and even beauty products that run down your drains to the sewer systems and into the rivers, seas and oceans. When sediment and other pollutants enter the water, they smother coral reefs, speed the growth of damaging algae, and lower water quality. Pollution can also make corals more susceptible to disease, impede coral growth and reproduction, and cause changes in food structures on the reef.