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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Behold--The beautiful rainforests of the sea!

The rainforests of the sea

Coral reefs are the most biologically diverse ecosystems of the ocean and are rivaled only by the tropical rainforests on land. Many thousands of beautiful fish, sea urchins, mollusks and the corals themselves are part of the amazing marine life that populate these reefs.
Many people depend on living coral reefs for food and protection from erosion and storm surges, as well as the additional benefits of medical research, tourism and aesthetic beauty. Coral reefs protect people from storm surges as well as large waves by acting as natural barriers. Coral reefs are also considered the backbone of the tropical ocean ecosystems -- and without them, all sea life would suffer greatly, as well as the species that millions of people depend on for seafood.

But the coral reefs of the world are in danger, and we need your help today to protect these vital treasure troves of oceanic biodiversity.
Coral reefs are facing several threats. First of all is the warming of our oceans caused by global climate change. The algae that live in the coral animals will leave when living conditions become unfavorable. When these algae leave, the coral loses its color and causes the reef to "bleach." Sometimes bleaching is just temporary and there can be several stresses that cause it, but when large-scale, drastic damaging coral bleaching events occur, most of the time due to increased water temperatures. Warm ocean waters also help fuel storms and hurricanes intensity, which are able damage coral reefs severely. By controlling global warming, we can not only improve our own lives, but also save these amazing and beautiful reefs.

Many reefs around the world are also overfished -- or else the fish are removed with destructive fishing practices. When too many fish (even of just one species) are taken from a reef, the ecological balance of the entire reef ecosystem is thrown off-balance, and all the species of living creatures in the area become threatened. In addition, practices like cyanide fishing, bottom trawling and even blast (dynamite) fishing are all common practices of fishermen for harvesting fish around coral reefs. And the corals themselves are removed from reefs to be sold as souveniers, or to be placed in aquariums as decorations. And the remains of the corals that were not found were left to bleach and die in the sea.

Our support will help to protect coral reefs from threats like climate change, harvesting and destructive fishing practices. WWF has long been a leader in the scientific research that has linked climate change to coral reef destruction, as well as a strong proponent of putting in place marine protected areas that allow coral and fish populations to recover in untouched sanctuaries. With your help there is so much more we can accomplish to protect these rainforests of the sea.



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