Why Does it Matter if Corals Die?

What can we do to help coral?

Gillian Ward, Reporter

Corals are a beautiful part of our oceans. There are hundreds of different types of corals, and thousands of different marine species that depend on and call coral reefs home. Twenty five percent of marine species rely on coral reefs to find food, shelter and to breed. This means if the coral reefs die, so does twenty five percent of the Earth’s fish. Many regions rely on coral reefs to draw marine tourism, an industry that generates nearly thirty billion dollars a year worldwide. The economies of these regions will suffer and so will the lives of their employees. Many nations of the world rely on fish as one of their main staples of food. These people will go hungry. Coral reefs also act as a buffer to protect coastal inhabitants from harsh storms, waves and floods. These people could face coastal erosion, property damage and loss of life. 

Where does hope lie?

There isn’t much hope left for coral reefs. The only hope the world has left is action. Scientists around the globe are taking action by working to produce answers on how to reverse coral bleaching and prevent more of it. They are finding corals that hold strong against the leading threats to coral, and finding ways to boost coral growth to help repopulate reefs. Scientist have even been creating hybrid corals to be more resilient against acid, heat, and pollution. 

What can be done by the average Joe?

Most people are not scientists. So what can be done by the average Joe to help save coral reefs? One of the main causes of coral bleaching is the rise of ocean temperatures caused by climate change, so a person can help coral reefs by reducing their carbon footprint. To do this, one can reduce emissions by cycling instead of driving, using power efficient lights and by using less electricity overall. Another leading cause of coral bleaching is water pollution, which can be reduced by conserving water, which will reduce any chemical runoff into the ocean. Last but not least: using a responsible sunscreen. Oxybenzone, one of the main ingredients in most sunscreens, is extremely detrimental to coral reefs and marine life. “Reef safe” sunscreens are easily found and work just as well as chemical-pumped sunscreens.

Keep informed, do your part.

There is so much to lose when it comes to coral reef bleaching. There are many more ways to work toward saving coral. Although advancements are being made and some coral reefs are able to recover (such as reefs on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island Hawaii), other reefs such as The Great Barrier Reef are not as fortunate. National Geographic claims that “Half of The Great Barrier Reef is dead…the world’s largest coral reef system has been bleached to death.” The coral is still dying, the main cause is climate change, and something needs to be done fast.

To learn more about coral and coral reefs, check out my article titled “What are Coral Reefs, Anyway?”


Loria, Kevin. “What Happens If All the Coral Reefs Die?” World Economic Forum, www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/04/what-happens-if-all-the-coral-reefs-die.

Ross, Rachel. “What Are Coral Reefs?” LiveScience, Purch, 24 Sept. 2018, www.livescience.com/40276-coral-reefs.html.

-“Why Reefs Matter.” Restoring Our World’s Dying Reefs, www.coralvita.co/why-reefs-matter/.