Coral reefs are arguably the world s most beautiful habitats. Coral reefs have been called the rainforests of the oceans, because of the rich diversity of life they support. Scientists have not yet finished counting the thousands of different species of plants and animals that use or live in the coral reef. There are three types of coral reefs: fringing reefs, barrier reefs, and atolls. Fringing reefs are located close to shore, separated from land by only shallow water. Barrier reefs lie farther offshore, separated from land by lagoons more than ten meters deep. Atolls, on the other hand, are formed far offshore and they make a ring-shaped reef that close a circular lagoon. Coral reefs are the largest biological structures on the planet, with the largest being the Great Barrier Reef covering over 2,000 kilometers along the east coast of Australia. The reef is said to be 500,000 to 2,500,000 years old and is said to be visible from the moon. This is only one of the many coral reefs that are being exploited by the us today. Coral reefs should be preserved instead of being demoralized by the humans for their own benefits, who will inevitably destroy it.

This is one of the major problems, which will eventually wipe out this beautiful structure just because of the carelessness of mankind. There are many more factors that add to the destruction of the coral reefs, which if not stopped it will destroy all coral reefs. Things such as silt from deforested lands and pollution from crowded coastlines chokes them, and overuse by coal miners, fisheries.

Corals are animals, not plants, sunlight is the key to their survival. They need it to power the millions of microscopic algae, called zooxanthellae that live in their tissues. The algae provide the corals with food and oxygen in return for raw materials and a secure place to live. This teamwork is what allows the reef to survive in nutrient-poor tropical seas. This relationship is sensitive to such changes in the environment as cloudy waters or extreme temperatures. The stress on the corals can cause them to expel their algae, an occurrence known as bleaching. With the algae gone, the coral skeleton is visible and eventually it dies. Died corals lead further on to the death of the reef. There are four environmental factors that effect their growth: temperature, salinity, water depth, and wave action. These factors expose the reef to changes in the environment very easily, especially since it is located so close to shore. This also makes it hard for all of the species, which use the coral reef to survive. Coral reefs are home to perhaps one-fourth of all marine species. This in turns effects the entire ecosystem of the ocean. Pollution by humans have directly or indirectly caused the death of 5%-10% of the world s living reefs, according to marine biologist Clive Wilkinson of the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

The problems which are getting even bigger is the problem of deforestation and reckless divers. One of the biggest threats to coral reefs is tourism. Last year alone over 1.2 million tourists visited the Great Barrier Reef. The tourists are not only fisherman and devoted divers they are also scientists who wanted to see the enormous reef. Every year the numbers of visitors increase by 10%. It has brought many resorts to the area who also want to get into fun and making a little money in the $1 billion business. Even the hotels and the motels pollute the reefs by their drainage and sewage pipes. This is causing a huge problem in coastal tourism, which is the world s fastest growing industry, worth over $7 billion annually in the Caribbean. Marine Scientists are really worried of how much longer the reef can survive with all these visitors to the reefs. Recreation and tourism: tourists spend about $1.2 billion annually in the Florida Keys. This might be a legitimate reason for a country to make use of it s natural resource, but like all things, if not taken cared of it will quickly disappear from the face of the earth forever.

Much greater factors on why we should save coral reefs are established by scientist today. First of all, they shelter a collection of diverse organisms, and contribute fisheries, which provide food items such as fish, crustaceans, and mollusks. Furthermore, coral skeletons are being used as bone substitutes in reconstructive bone surgery and maybe able to provide important medicine, including anti-cancer drugs and a compound that blocks ultra-violet rays, they even help reduce global warming by taking carbon dioxide out of the air. These reefs provide a house for many species. If the coral reefs were to become extinct than future generations would not have the benefits that theses animals have to offer, such as possible medicines, pest control, and carbon dioxide control. Fisheries are also contributed by corals and if they were eliminated this would reduce the food source greatly. By not preserving corals, we are taking food directly out of our grandchildren's mouths.

With the technology that is rapidly being discovered, we learn more and more about

what we can do with bone structure and hard corals. Right now we are doing restructuring procedures and learning that bone tissue and blood vessels spread into the coral graft and eventually bone replaces most of the coral implant. Think about what could happen in the future, what future generations could do to improve bone structure disabilities. The possibilities are endless. There is evidence that suggests coral reefs could potentially provide important medicines, including anti-cancer drugs and a compound that blocks out UV rays. Do we really want to take that opportunity away from our descendants? With the ozone layer depleting more and more each day they are going to need all the protection they need from the sun's harmful rays. Possibly a cure for cancer, and people are treating these living organisms without any value to our peoples future. These organisms not only provide protection from ultra-violet rays they also help slow down the depletion of the ozone layer by taking carbon dioxide out of the air.

Last but not least, the reason why we should preserve these precious resources is because they are a living laboratory. Scientist has barely scratched the surface of the potential of these creatures.

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