Coral reefs are valuable because they protect tropical shorelines from damage by storm waves. A recent World Bank study suggests that each square meter of coral reef in the Caribbean protects $ 47,000 in property.
Coral reefs provide hundreds of thousands of people with income and food from fishing. A coral reef in prime condition can produce over 20 tons of protein per square kilometer a year.
Tourism is a major source of income for many tropical island nations. Caribbean reefs alone are worth around $ 140 billion per year in tourism dollars.
At the global level, scientists believe that by taking up calcium carbonate from seawater, corals create carbon sinks which lessen the impact of the green house gasses involved in global warming.
Coral reefs are home to such a vast array of animals and plants that only a small fraction of them have so far been described.
More and more medical compounds are being isolated from coral reef creatures which can be used to combat HIV, cancer and other diseases whilst sterilized coral skeleton is already being used as a bone substitute for implants.
But most of all, coral reefs give us an unparalleled opportunity to marvel at the wonder of life and the beauty and complexity of the world we live in. Let’s take care of it 🙂