The Troublesome Trend
Scleractinian Coral % Cover - Great Barrier Reef (1986-2012)
Sadly, this is not a trend that is unique to the Great Barrier Reef. Coral reefs worldwide are in decline. Reasons include anthropogenic climate change, overfishing and subsequent trophic collapse, invasive species outbreaks, crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks, nutrient runoff, and pollution - or any combination of the above. With such steep declines and the slew of causative problems to address, you may wonder; why bother? Degraded or extirpated reefs are not lost causes. Nature is vivacious and springs back like grass after a long winter. These underlying issues can be solved by us and things are not so far gone that changing our ways is folly. Reduce your consumption and waste, and vote for people who do what is right.
We can also help nature do its thing. While we work to solve the underlying issues which we have created, we can help nature by means of assisted adaptation to warmer climates and by promoting natural settlement and recruitment of coral larvae. Coral colonies produce millions of offspring in mass spawning events and we can assist with recovery from mortality by promoting the survival of these offspring (see “What I Do” below soon). Not all hope is lost. Do not give up on this natural treasure of an ecosystem which feeds us and protects us (see “Why are coral reefs important” below soon). The reality of things is grim but the people who face this reality as a line of work have not given up - and neither should you.
What I Do