5 Ways Coral Reefs Are Important to Humans

coral reefsFrom the Great Barrier Reef to the Caribbean’s treasures, coral reefs are an integral part of ocean life. Not only do they attract and house an array of marine life, they also provide a place of exploration for SCUBA divers and marine scientists. Environmental consciousness is critical to keep the world’s coral reef populations healthy. From reducing ocean waste to preserving specific habitats, we hold the potential to help corals flourish even more for a healthy global ecosystem. Let’s take a look at five key ways in which coral reefs are important to humans.


Fishing And Tourism Economy

Reefs house a huge habitat for creatures that humans use for economic purposes. Fishing is a multimillion-dollar business, feeding the world’s population. Sea animals, including shelled organisms, provide economies with souvenir items to entice tourists. The reef itself is a tourist attraction, creating water sport economies based on snorkeling and SCUBA fees.

Air Quality

Corals use the dissolved carbon dioxide in the ocean water to form new reefs. This gas conversion to limestone shell controls the carbon dioxide levels in the ocean. Without coral’s activity, that gas could saturate the ocean and air mass above it. All wildlife, including humans, would be negatively affected with a higher carbon dioxide level.

Food Web

Without reefs, several thousand fish species wouldn’t have a home. Because of the coral’s protective design, exposed fish would slowly dieback, creating an imbalance in the ocean’s food web. Larger fish would soon decline in population because reef fish wouldn’t be available as a food source. The reef and food web are solidly connected.

coral reefsErosion Control

The ocean’s powerful currents could easily erode famous beaches and shorelines without coral reefs in place. As waves strike the reefs, the water is slightly redirected and slowed down to preserve the shoreline. The currents themselves may change course permanently without reefs in place, contributing to climate change as warm and cold water mix differently across the globe.

Medicines Derived From Coral

Modern medicine uses the rainforest and coral reefs to expand on lifesaving drugs. Without reefs, the flora and fauna necessary for some cancer-fighting drugs wouldn’t be available. It’s crucial to keep reefs healthy to derive medicines for human survival.

Images via NOAA Photo Library, Derek Keats

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