How Can We Save the Coral Reefs?

Author: Jenny Yao

Editors: Shamsia Ahmed and Simran Gohel

Artist: Jiaqi Fan

Corals look like rocks but instead are really made up of tiny biological polyps. They prey by filtering at night and then replicate. Corals are fed by a kind of seaweed living in the ocean which provides food for coral insects through photosynthesis. Corals and this seaweed are symbiotic organisms. One provides shelter and the other provides food.

Coral reefs are a source of life in the ocean, which is the basis of a huge food chain and the basis of the human food web. Fish living in coral reefs provide high-quality protein for millions of people around the world. You may not realize that coral reefs not only provide humans with seafood, but also many more important things. The organisms in coral reefs secrete some chemical components that are not found on land. These chemical ingredients can be used as medicine or to make some other supplements.

The global large-scale coral degradation is caused by climate change and human activities. Climate change includes global warming, ocean acidification, and storm surges. Human activities include seawater pollution caused by coastal development, overfishing, sightseeing cruises in the coral reef area, anchoring during fishing, diving activities, and touching the coral directly. Also, there are biological erosions, such as the eruption of long thorn starfish and the eruption of red tides, and deterioration of seawater quality due to human activities. Global warming is a major cause of coral degradation in low-latitude seas. For high-latitude corals, although the summer warming in extreme years makes corals bleaching, global warming can also alleviate cold bleaching in winter and promote coral reef-building. Overall, it has little effect on high-latitude corals. Of course, corals are mainly distributed in low-latitude sea areas, that is, tropical. Scientists predict that corals will disappear from the ocean by the end of this century because the global carbon dioxide emissions have caused the sea to absorb a large amount of carbon dioxide and acidify the sea. Coral bones are calcium carbonate, which dissolves in acid. When the pH of the seawater drops to a certain level, the rate of coral reef-building is lower than the rate of calcium carbonate dissolution, and the coral reef gradually disappears.

The ecology of the earth is a whole, and one reason for the large-scale death of corals is global warming and rising sea temperatures. It doesn’t mean you have to go there and do something. The simplest way is to pay attention to environmental protection in daily life, protect the environment, reduce carbon emissions, sort garbage, and save water and energy.


Zoe Cormier, Zoe. “珊瑚礁的大灾难.” BBC, 11 Apr. 2019,

“拯救珊瑚.” 人民网, Accessed 30

Mar. 2013.

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