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Coral reefs

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INTRODUCTION Coral reefs are extraordinarily diverse ecosystems, second only to the rainforests, but they are in terrible danger. Most of the world's coral reefs are on the worldwide-endangered species list. Coral reefs are being exploited by humans, and at the same time naturally destroyed, by climatic events. The way tourism affects coral reefs is the focus of this topic. I chose this topic, because research projects about the environment, and tourism interests me, and I knew that I would be able to do it to the best of my ability. Coral Polyps... Coral polyps are what make up coral reefs; they are animals. Their body is made up of no more than a sack with a mouth. Each polyp secretes makes a stony calcareous skeleton o calcium carbonate around its body. The skeletons of all polyps in a colony are joined together, and when polyps die, their delicate bodies decay leaving their hard skeletons behind forming coral reef base. New polyps then grow on top of the one that dies, and gradually over time, reefs of coral skeletons are built up on the ocean floor. Reefs are not automatically formed; first, the polyps form a coral thicket and then a coral reef. (www.library.thinkquest.org/CRO215242/coral_reefs.htm) Figure 1: Annotated diagram of a coral polyp Coral Reefs... Coral reefs are a complex and fragile ecosystem; they are one of the main tourist attractions present in the Caribbean. Coral comes in all shapes, sizes, and colours. Coral is divided into to two main groups, hard and soft coral. * Hard Coral: - this is was forms the hard solid structure that forms the reef base. It is formed from the calcareous base that the polyps secrete. The process is slow and on an average coral grows at about 1-2 mm a year, meaning it takes thousands of years for a substantial piece of coral to come about. Figure 2: Hard Coral * Soft Coral: - do not have skeletons, and feed by swaying in the water. ...read more.


* When sewage wells are built, sometimes the sewage seeps out, and it bring untreated, kills the coral. * By building on the beach, coral are killed due to the consequential increased sedimentation. * Cruise ships carrying many tourists sometimes may anchor, and unknowingly hit part of the coral reef with the anchor, smashing it. This type of damage is very devastating and would take a long time to build back that part of the reef, which took thousands of years to form. However, to a stop to this, there are some steps in place. E.g., there are now specific places where ships have to anchor, which are away from the reefs and other marine life, keeping them safe from danger. * Dredging oceans to make way for bigger cruise ships to come closer to land, hence aiding tourism development also clears away coral in its path, and is very destructive. Over the past three decades, the coral cover has gone from around 50-60% cover to only about 10% in the Caribbean. This fact has made the Caribbean more aware of what they are doing. Recently, many rules and regulations have now been put into place, not only regarding coral, but other coastal resources as well. Because of these laws, the Caribbean is now slowly recovering from that great loss due to the previous exploitation of the reefs. Many measures are now in place to maintain and increase the numbers of coral colonies around the coasts of the islands. These will be looked at later in the project. Impact of TOURISM and CONSTRUCTION for tourism on Coral Reefs Much of the infrastructure associated with tourism is either located on or adjacent to the south and west coasts, which is where coral reefs are located also. Big tourist facilities are being built on the coasts of the Caribbean; infrastructures such as hotels, marinas, roads, and some waste treatment facilities. ...read more.


* Later on, lobsters, crabs, and other marine animals were also transported into the marine park. This project was considered a success, as not many of the corals died and only four almost died. The Coastal Zone management saved over 700 hard corals, which would have, otherwise, perished. Transplanting the coral also added additional beauty to Folkestone Marine Park, which is one of Barbados' most dived sites. All the cruise ships such as Harbour Master and the Jolly Roger dock there as their stop off points, and the passengers can get off and take a careful dive down to see the beauty. Figure 16: Showing the recipient site of Folkestone Marine Park before the transplantation Figure 17: Showing the recipient site of Folkestone Marine Park after transplantation Conclusion Tourism is a big part of the problem of the diminishing coral reef population in the Caribbean and even in the world. Activities such as construction on beaches, pollution from hotels and ships, the growing aquaculture, in some way damage coral reefs, especially if not done with care. The coral reefs along with other coastal resources are vital in attracting tourists to the Caribbean. Many tourists come to the Caribbean to enjoy the sun, the sea, the beaches, and the diving so they can experience the beauty of coral. If coral were to be gone from our seas that would lead to loss of beach, as erosion would be greater and there would be no coasts for the tourists to enjoy, and the tourism of the islands would die There are quite a few steps in place to curb the decline and the destruction of the Coral reefs in the Caribbean, and I believe that they are working. Over time, if the world keeps up the efforts, we as a people can fight this, and restore the coral reefs to the way they were hundreds of years ago. So in order to keep both the coral alive as well as the tourism sector, we each have a role to play, in preserving the coral of the Caribbean and the wider world. 1 ...read more.

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