Coral reefs are highly productive and varied habitats, and for the people of many countries they are of great economic importance. The marine equivalent to tropical rain forests, corals reefs have evolved for over 500 million years, survived some of natures greatest upheavals, and formed the greatest marine structures on Earth, providing a home and feeding ground for myriad species. In the tropical seas they are oasis's in an otherwise empty blue ocean, teeming with so much life that words cannot describe.
Whilst many thousands of miles of the worlds coral reefs remain untouched by the activities of man, and many even remain unknown due to their remoteness, a great many are situated close to the shores of increasingly industrialised nations and in areas with a rapidly developing tourist trade. Another major problem is deforestation, resulting in an increase in rain run off reaching the sea, choking coral reefs to death from siltation and lack of sunlight.
Global warming and the localised effect of wars are yet another issue. The coral animal is very sensitive to changes in temperature and will die if the sea temperatures exceed their normal annual maximum or minimums for a given geographic location.

Red Sea coral reef, Ras Muhammed, Egypt
Planet Earth has been through many climatic changes over time, there have been ice ages and periods of global warming. We have now been in a period of global
warming for the last 10,000 years, since the end of the last ice age. These temperature
changes have however always been slow enough for the coral animal to adapt and evolve to the new conditions. Now however this global warming cycle has been dramatically accelerated as a result of mans actions and ignorance, creating a much faster rise in sea surface temperatures.
The result is that many of these vital coral habitats are under tremendous stress, in decline or even dead, as a result of sea temperature abnomalies, sedimentation, overfishing or careless use of by recreational activities. In some areas large expanses of coral reef stand as stony skeletons, covered in algae and devoid of fish.

The rate at which coral reefs are being reduced is alarming and action to reverse this trend must take place urgently. Today it is
vitally important to put into effect more studies, long term monitoring projects and to educate the populations of countries involved,
as to the widerange of human activities that pose a threat to coral reefs.
Many such reefs have never been surveyed; without which, the vital long term monitoring of their condition presents an almost
impossible task. Oceanic research specializes in the survey and study of coral reefs and by collaborating with marine biologists
and scientists, a number of accuratehabitat data maps may be produced. Problems areas may be noted, annual changes observed and sources of threat identified.


  • Coral mortality following the 1991 Gulf War
  • Recreational Diving - The Latest Threat to Coral Reefs
  • Biology of the Coral Reef



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