coral reefs are rapidly and irreparably being damaged by both coastal
and inland activities of man. The severity of this destruction worldwide
has prompted the U.S. Department of State and the United Nations to
spread awareness of this serious environmental crisis by declaring
1997 the “International Year of the Reef” and 1998 the “International
Year of the Oceans.” Coral reef experts are predicting that the
worlds coral reefs have just thirty-to-fifty years of life remaining
(a conservative estimate), and fear the repercussions this will have
on the global atmosphere.
response to this crisis, many islands and nations have begun participating
in International Coral Reef Initiatives, forming regional task forces
to address local reef conservation issues. Unfortunately, the implementation
of “real time” solutions to coral reef conservation often conflicts
with the short-term interests of government and private industry.
the majority of coral reef conservation dollars are allocated toward
extensive coral reef mapping and monitoring programs. Although monitoring
is needed to assess the success or failure of coral reef management
initiatives, comprehensive monitoring efforts take years to complete
and may leave us with an expensive record of where living coral reefs
used to be. CORALations works in partnership with local governments
and communities to propel effective public education initiatives,
implement alternate domestic and industrial waste-water treatment
technologies, establish marine fishery reserves, and facilitate the
implementation and enforcement of sustainable development practices.
Your membership helps to insure
that immediate and proactive approaches to Caribbean coral reef conservation
are emphasized and funded. Our Caribbean base of operations allows
us to more effectively work with Caribbean island communities.
treated sewage and agricultural runoff damage the coral
reef by overloading nutrients into this delicately balanced system.
Sewage discharged into our coastal waters also presents serious health
risks to people who enjoy Caribbean beaches. In the Caribbean many
residents and hotels discharge sewage directly into their coastal
waters. For economic reasons, many Caribbean governments continue
to rely on outdated wastewater treatment technologies for public sanitation.
Millions of gallons of inadequately treated sewage and industrial
waste are discharged from these facilities into coastal waters every
development and careless land clearing exposes soil which
is washed into coastal waters with every rainfall. Minute particles
of soil can float for long periods of time blocking out the sunlight
the corals and sea-grass beds need for their survival. This silt eventually
settles, directly suffocating the corals and sea-grass.
destruction of mangroves for coastal development and
for use as a dump for raw sewage and other waste has destroyed or
modified acres of these critical wetlands throughout the Caribbean.
Mangroves provide critical nursery and feeding grounds for reef fish,
open-ocean fish, shellfish, and endangered species of sea birds. Mangrove
wetlands also trap sediment from natural runoff protecting adjacent
sea-grass and coral reefs.
water pollution threatens coastal coral reefs and poisons
fish and shellfish. Many animals, including humans, exposed to this
chemical contamination suffer impacts to their immune systems, making
them more susceptible to infection and disease. Microbiologists have
recently discovered that the mixtures of organic and inorganic chemicals
discharged into our ocean waters may actually be "feeding"
micro-organisms that cause disease in people and marine animals.
is transforming healthy coral reefs into reefs overgrown with algae.
Some methods of fishing, including trapping, trawling and flushing
with chemicals, directly damage critical habitat necessary for propagating
and protecting fish. Marine scientists have documented that spear
fishing selectively eliminates entire fish species from the food
chain, ultimately resulting in an imbalance that destroys coral. Balanced
reef fish populations are essential to maintaining healthy coral reefs.
in the Caribbean, anchors and military bombing maneuvers
continue to destroy centuries old coral growth and critical fish habitat
in just a matter of seconds.
or inexperienced swimmers, snorkelers and SCUBA divers visiting
reefs cause damage by stepping on and touching corals. Reef visitors
sometimes remove a piece of coral, or a sponge or a snail shell to
take as a souvenir, completely unaware that it is home to a living
organism. (This awareness often comes later, when they smell their
suit cases!) Corals and many other reef creatures are protected and
their removal and import back into the United States may result in
spills repeatedly offer dramatic examples of how, in minutes,
human error and lack of regulation can destroy an entire ecosystem.
Oil from road runoff and the improper disposal of used
motor oil in rivers and oceans contaminates our coastal waters.
motorboat and personal watercraft operators can injure or
disturb endangered sea turtles and manatees feeding in shallow sea-grass
beds. Speeding watercraft, even with no propellers, have been cited
in collision deaths with manatees in Florida and Puerto Rico. Boats
and personal watercraft speeding through mangroves, flush birds from
their nests, exposing eggs and hatchlings to the hot tropical sun.
is an increasing problem, both aesthetically and environmentally,
in areas where people live or visit. Plastic shopping bags and
rubber balloons floating in the ocean are mistaken for food
by sea turtles and dolphins, with deadly consequences. Plastic
six-pack can holders entangle and choke sea birds, and carelessly
discarded fishing lines and nets indiscriminately kill
fish, birds and other sea creatures they entangle. Even bio-degradable
food buried on beaches sustains large fire-ant colonies
that devour bird and turtle hatchlings.
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