In my first post, I looked at the problems coral reefs are facing, and why it’s important for us to save them. In this post, I am going to talk about different actions we could take to help coral reefs, and what specific problems these actions would address. Let get into it!
Most solutions fall under two general categories:
1. Solutions that PROTECT & PRESERVE what’s left
2. Solutions that RESTORE what was before
Solutions that protect:
There are a couple simple things that everyone can do to help, such as…
Choosing to eat sustainably fished seafood
As discussed in my last research round, overfishing has a negative impact on the ocean, and can cause a collapse in the ocean’s food chain. One way we can fight this problem is by only eating sustainably fished seafood, and choosing not to support unsustainable fishing corporations. Sustainable seafood is caught or farmed by using methods that minimise the damage done to our oceans. (3)
But how do you know which fish are sustainably fished, and which aren’t?
Many seafood brands and restaurants advertise the fact that they sell only sustainably sourced sea food. In Canada, we have a program called ocean wise, which works in partnership with the Vancouver Aquarium. One of their projects works on marking seafood with a symbol so that we can easily see if it’s sustainably sourced.The symbol appears on menus and in stores! (2) This is what it looks like:
Here’s another symbol that’s common to see in Vancouver stores:
Being cautious of the chemicals you discard into drains and other waterways
As I learnt last round, chemicals we use in our home can easily find their way into waterways. A big danger is cleaning products, because they are often discarded down the drain. From there, it’s easy for those chemicals to end up in the ocean.
What can we do to prevent this?
A good way to keep chemicals out of our waterways without sacrificing the cleanliness of your home is to purchase environmentally friendly cleaning products. These are becoming popular in more and more stores, and even the store I work at carries them now (4)
Not purchasing gifts or jewelry made of coral
I feel like this one’s pretty self explanatory, but I see a lot of people coming back from vacation with a coral or shell necklace. It’s important to avoid taking things, especially coral, out of the ocean unless necessary. It’s good to enjoy it while you’re there, but leave it where it belongs 😊
Avoiding sunscreens that include chemicals that could be damaging
Many sunscreens contain chemicals that can be harmful to marine life. When snorkeling, scuba diving or swimming with sunscreen on, it can rinse of into the water. Here’s some sun screen alternatives that are ocean safe:
All of these sunscreens are mineral based, which is what makes them safe for the ocean.
If diving, make sure not to touch the coral or the ocean floor
This one seems really obvious, but when snorkeling or diving, it’s easy to get caught up in the experience and forget about how your actions impact the coral reef.
And other actions that reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to stopping climate change. (1)
Solutions that restore:
Growing coral on land, then planting it in the ocean
Also known as “coral farming” this is when scientists grow coral in “coral nurseries”, and return them to the reef when they are big enough. There are multiple different ways to grow coral. Scientists at NOAA fisheries are able to grow these corals in their nursery by collecting broken pieces of coral from the ocean. Once regrown, the pieces of coral are reattached to the reef, using zip ties, nails, and cement. (5)
A company called Coral Vita works in the Caribbean using a more modern technique called micro fragmentation. This process is done by removing a fragment of coral and breaking it into small pieces. The tiny pieces of coral then grow into “clones” of the original plant. This process is said to be 50 times faster than traditional growing techniques.(6)
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and scientists are willing to give it their all. This fairly new ambitious idea focuses on genetically modifying coral so that it has a higher heat tolerance, and can survive through the effects of climate change. They are also trying to create a less fragile bond between coral and it’s algae, in order to prevent coral bleaching. Both of these processes are quite complicated, and involve the creation of many hybrid corals. I put this idea under solutions that restore, put it protects corals very much as well. I’ve put a picture from the article below, for anyone that wants to get some extra information (7):
That’s all for this round! Next round I will be looking at the sustainability of these actions!
Pictures (in order they appear)