Coral Reefs: Cause and Effect Essay

Essay by gconnelUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, May 2004

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Coral reefs are found in warm, shallow waters of the ocean. They are home to many sea animals, such as clown fish, parrotfish, jellyfish, anemones, sea stars, and a host of other creatures. These beautiful structures are formed when coral polyps die and leave behind a limestone structure. The Great Barrier Reef in Australia, reefs in Central America, the Red Sea, Florida, and many others like them face the same threat. Human activity endangers these beautiful habitats.

Human pollution causes major damage to coral reefs. Fishermen that use cyanide to stun and capture tropical fish for aquariums poison the reefs and invertebrate species in the ocean community. Also the overdevelopment of coastal properties causes sewage and fertilizer runoff. The high concentration of pollutants kill coral and expose it to deadly disease. To a lesser extent, oil spills caused by tankers which run into the rocks in the shallow water further contribute to coral destruction.

Ten percent of coral reefs in the world have already disappeared, and without stricter regulations, these beautiful yet delicate reefs will continue to be damaged along with the animals that call them home.

Besides pollution, global warming and recreational damage also contribute to coral reef destruction. Global warming causes the earth's temperature to increase, which melts icebergs and causes the sea level to rise. Since coral reefs grow slower than the rising ocean, the water may become too deep for the sunlight to penetrate. This causes coral life that depends on the sunlight for photosynthesis to starve and die. Destruction caused by recreational activity by tourist also damages these reefs. Tourists buy from tourist shops as souvenirs. When tourists boat, they sometimes anchor in these reefs, thus causing damage. These factors will slowly deteriorate tese natural structures.

Coral reefs are fragile, natural wonders that support...