Today is Coral Triangle Day, a day when we can celebrate one of the planet’s richest centers of biodiversity and marine life (WWF, n.d.). The Coral Triangle covers 6 million km2 of land, covering Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands (WWF, n.d.). It is home to over 6000 species of fish and gives rise to 76% of the world’s coral species, and 6/7 of the world’s marine turtle species (WWF, n.d.). However, due to overfishing, climate change, and human actions, the Coral Triangle has been suffering immensely (WWF, n.d.). As the Triangle sustains around 120 million people, it is necessary to think about how we can preserve these precious ecosystems, and with them, the livelihoods of many (WWF, n.d.). Let’s take a deep dive into the threats the Triangle faces, and what you can do to celebrate Coral Triangle Day!
Many effects of climate change can be disastrous to coral and marine biodiversity. For instance, rising sea levels due to melting glaciers, and increasing water temperatures (My Green World, n.d.). For many species, it can be difficult to adapt to such changes. Ocean acidification is another big threat that coral reefs face. Oceans are massive carbon sinks, and carbon dioxide dissolves in water to increase acidity. This acidity can lead to coral bleaching and a decline in sea life in general. Carbon dioxide can actually inhibit the formation of some shells, for example, putting those species in danger.
Waste in the Oceans can lead to devastating effects on marine life and corals. Not only can water-based pollution affect them, but land-based as well (My Green World, n.d.). Fertilizers, chemicals and sediments from agriculture, urbanization, cities and industries can wash down from rivers and settle on reefs, causing algal blooms (My Green World, n.d.). Algal blooms strip water of oxygen, smothering coral and marine life (My Green World, n.d.). Pollution can also decrease water quality and make coral reefs more susceptible to disease (Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, n.d.).
Overfishing is what happens when more fish are being removed from an ecosystem than can be replenished (My Green World, n.d.). Recently, the Coral Triangle area has become a hub for economic growth, with an increasing population leading to increases in demand and development (My Green World, n.d.). As there is now increased demand for some fish species, these species are being heavily exploited at higher rates than before, allowing little time for them to reproduce and repopulate. In the worst-case scenario, these species may no longer exist! It is also possible for other species to get caught in the same net, which means that not only are we harming target species, but non-target ones as well (My Green World, n.d.).
What you can do
Now that you know a little more about coral reefs and the threats they face, it’s important to remember that every individual action makes a difference! Here are some things you can do to celebrate Coral Triangle Day!
- Volunteer in activities like beach clean-ups and recycling drives to get waste out of our waters (Earth Reminder, 2022)!
- Raise awareness about the Coral Triangle and the threats it faces (Earth Reminder, 2022)! Go and tell someone you know or send them this article! Social media is a great way to spread the news.
- Stop buying single-use plastics and opt for eco-friendly alternatives instead (Earth Reminder, 2022)!
- Avoid using fertilizers or harmful chemicals that may end up in our waters.
- Participate in a Coral Triangle Day event near you (Earth Reminder, 2022)!
If you’re interested in learning more about coral reefs, check out our article here!
Earth Reminder. (2022). Coral Triangle Day: History and How We can Celebrate it. Earth Reminder. Retrieved Jun 7, 2023 from: https://www.earthreminder.com/coral-triangle-day/
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. (n.d.). Pollution can smother coral reefs, lower water quality, and make corals more susceptible to disease. Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Retrieved Jun 7, 2023 from: https://floridakeys.noaa.gov/corals/pollution.html#:~:text=Pollution%20can%20smother%20coral%20reefs,algae%2C%20and%20lower%20water%20quality.
My Green World. (n.d.). The Biggest Threats Facing The Coral Triangle. My Green World. Retrieved Jun 7, 2023 from: https://www.mygreenworld.org/blog/coral-triangle
WWF. (n.d.). Coral Triangle. WWF. Retrieved Jun 7, 2023 from: https://wwf.panda.org/discover/knowledge_hub/where_we_work/coraltriangle/