Reef Radiance: Honoring World Reef Awareness Day

Reef Radiance: Honoring World Reef Awareness Day

This past Saturday, June 1st, we celebrated World Reef Awareness Day. This designated day is designed to help to create awareness among various business communities and the general public about the fragile biological system of our oceans’ coral reefs globally!

One of the most famous coral reefs is that of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. If you are like me, this is a spot for the bucket list for sure! As a child growing up watching Finding Nemo, I was fascinated by the coral reef! It is a unique ecosystem that is found throughout our world and it is hard to comprehend its true beauty unless you see it with your own eyes. So I definitely will need to take a trip to Australia, maybe it will be one of the next Ross Park Zoo Eco-Trips 😉

In all seriousness, coral reefs around the world are in grave danger. According to the World Resources Institute, it is predicted that by 2030, “more than 90% of the world’s reefs will be threatened by local human activities, warming, and acidification, with nearly 60% facing high, very high, or critical threat levels.”* This is affecting over 100 countries. Coral reefs are located throughout the globe providing barriers and protection for coastlines from storms and erosion, as well as protection and homes for fish and other organisms to rear their young and find food, and they even play an important role in photosynthesis for zooxanthellae! According to NOAA’s Science On a Sphere, “the coral provides a protected environment and the compounds zooxanthellae need for photosynthesis. In return, the algae produce carbohydrates that the coral uses for food, as well as oxygen. The algae also helps the coral remove waste. Since both partners benefit from association, this type of symbiosis is called mutualism.”**

Like countless other ecosystems around the world. Coral reefs are getting hit hard by threats from all angles. “Some threats are natural, such as diseases, predators, and storms. Other threats are caused by people, including pollution, sedimentation, unsustainable fishing practices, and climate change, which is raising ocean temperatures and causing ocean acidification. Many of these threats can stress corals, leading to coral bleaching and possible death, while others cause physical damage to these delicate ecosystems.”**

Explore ways you can help coral reefs below!

Though it may feel sometimes that we can’t make a difference, even the smallest things build to make huge changes. From the smallest act of recycling to using biodegradable products, you begin to save the current environment you are in which cascades to creating healthier ecosystems around the world. Here at the Ross Park Zoo, we are beginning to transition into offering biodegradable products such as bamboo utensils! Small steps can have big impacts, you just need to take that first step forward.

Have a topic of interest? Let us know in the comment section below!

*https://sos.noaa.gov/catalog/datasets/coral-reef-risk-outlook/#:~:text=By%202030%2C%20estimates%20predict%20more,high%2C%20or%20critical%20threat%20levels.
**https://www.noaa.gov/education/resource-collections/marine-life/coral-reef-ecosystems#:~:text=Coral%20reefs%20protect%20coastlines%20from,food%2C%20income%2C%20and%20protection.

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