Anthropogenic Effects on Coral Reefs Essay

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Abstract:

Humans have a very large effect on the ecosystems of coral reefs. Sensitivity of coral reefs causes them to be more susceptible to harmful anthropogenic practices. Some of these are sedimentation, global warming, recreational activities, poison fishing, blast fishing practices, water pollution, and coral mining. All of these very different practices can effectively end up with the same results; the mortality of coral reefs around the world. Coral reefs are an important ecosystem of the world, and support many different industries and millions of people. Introduction

Coral Reefs are said to be the “tropical rainforest” of the sea. They are home to over 25% of all marine life
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As a result of this, more sediment is released into rivers that flow out into the ocean and coral reefs. Mangrove Forests are found between 32 degrees north and 38 degrees south latitude (www.earthisland.org ). They protect the coastlines from erosion, storm damage, and wave action. They also serve as sediment traps from inland sources, and help protect coral reefs from over sedimentation. As land clearing and intensive farming increase these important ecosystems become scarce (Wolanski and Spagnol 1999). Clearing the land causes an increase in soil erosion, creating mud that flows out to coral reefs. Nowlis et. al. (1997), found more sediment and coral damage on reefs closest to large river mouths. Sedimentation ultimately smothers coral reefs by reducing sunlight needed for photosynthesis (Birkeland ). Normally corals can sustain low levels of sediment supply by using natural removal processes. Over time they are unable to remove the sediment if there is too much sediment in the water (Grigg and Dollar 1990). In worst case scenarios sediments can bury corals completely. This was the case about 35 years ago in Castle Harbor, Bermuda. After dredging practices took place, corals that were found with in confined water circulation had a catastrophic mortality rate (Brown 1997).

Water Pollution

There are two significant types of water pollution that harm coral reefs; sewage run off and oil spills. Not all human waste is processed through

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