Giving coral reefs a future

worldwide coral reef conservation through research, education, outreach, and restoration

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Coral reefs are dying

  • Degraded reef with porcupine fish (Paul Selvaggio)
  • Polluted reef (Dirk Petersen)
  • Degraded reef in murky water (Dirk Petersen)
  • Crown of thorn (Dave Burdick)
  • Damaged reef (Dirk Petersen)
Tropical coral reefs are the most diverse marine ecosystems on earth, giving shelter to thousands of animal species. Many people depend on fisheries, tourism and coastal protection provided by healthy coral reefs. Yet today, coral reefs are dying at an alarming rate all around the globe.

Corals build the reef structure and provide the basis for a functioning coral reef ecosystem. Without corals, reefs will degrade and vanish within years. At present day, coral reefs are facing multiple stresses caused by pollution, overfishing, and climate change with its ensuing temperature rise. Consequently, over 50 % of the world’s coral reefs have died in the last 30 years and up to 90% may die within the next century—very few pristine coral reefs still exist (ICRI, NOAA, Reefbase, the Ocean Agency). The impact of the ongoing climate change, directly affecting coral reefs by an already measurable rise of sea water temperature, was manifested by the third global bleaching event in 2015/16 (NOAA declares third ever global coral bleaching event, El Niño prolongs longest global coral bleaching event, heating up corals). This event has caused a mass die-off of corals.

A world without corals not only means we will have a less diverse ocean, but it will be also an economic disaster for many people—predominantly in developing countries. Fisheries and tourism are important livelihoods that directly depend on healthy coral reefs. Reefs are nurseries for many fish species, including commercial ones, and attract millions of tourists every year. Coral reefs offer natural coastal protection, especially in areas frequently impacted by hurricanes and tropical storms. The great biodiversity of coral reefs serves as an important source for new medicinal remedies. Altogether, coral reefs comprise an area of almost 300 000 km²and are estimated to have an economic value of US$100 000 - 600 000 per km² ('In the front line', UNEP report, 2006), thus providing one of the most valuable ecosystem services. Coral reefs are among the most sensitive ecosystems and act as an early warning system. Their alarming status represents the poor health of our oceans and, if coral reefs disappear, other marine realms may soon follow.

Corals have existed for more than 400 million years; yet stresses and changes from human activities are happening faster than their ability to adapt. Corals may not survive the intensity and swiftness of these ongoing changes. A matter of vital importance is sexual reproduction of corals; as it is for most species. Sexual reproduction maintains genetic diversity and, in turn, enables species to adapt to a naturally dynamic environment in the long-term. Corals under stress are likely to stop sexual reproduction, which puts the survival of the species at risk. SECORE is working to give coral reefs a future.

Meet our supporters

SECORE's main supporters are:

The Green Foundation
Clyde and Connie Woodburn Foundation
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
TUI Cruises
California Academy of Science

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