Coral diseases are a major threat to the survival of coral reefs. While there is no cure for coral diseases, concerned scuba divers can take actions to reduce the impact of coral diseases on reefs.
When Scuba Diving:
1. Participate in Coral Monitoring:To change policies affecting ocean and coral health, conservationists need as much information as possible about the state of coral reefs around the world. Volunteer divers can help to collect this information by participating in coral reef monitoring vacations, such as those offered by GVI (Global Vision International) and other volunteer organizations. The Coral Reef Alliance works with local communities throughout the world to enable them to monitor and preserve their coral reefs.
2. Don't touch coral:Coral colonies may look like rocks; they may even be as hard as rocks, but they are not as resistant as rocks. Remember that tiny, sensitive coral polyps cover coral heads and branches. Touching coral, even accidentally, can cause the polyps unnecessary stress. Stress from physical contact makes coral more susceptible to infection.
On the Surface:
3. Keep pollutants away from the reefs:Much of what humans discard ends up in the ocean. Unfortunately, the ocean is an open system and it is impossible to completely contain wastes in a small area. Wastes which enter the ocean far from a reef may eventually affect it. Be sure that your trash (everything from daily wastes, old batteries, and car liquids) is properly disposed of. Whenever possible, reduce your trash and recycle. Keep storm drains clear as these may drain directly to the ocean.
4. Make small changes in your daily routine:Global climate change and ocean acidification have been found to be the result of our daily activities, such as driving and air conditioner use. Take stock of your daily routine and try to make changes that are better for the planet (utilize public transportation and ceiling fans, for example). You may feel like you can't make a difference but even subtle changes in your daily habits can make a positive difference!
5. Donate to Coral Reef Conservation Organizations:Conservation organizations need money to fund research and education. When you can not be in the water diving over a coral reef, consider helping to save one by making a donation to an appropriate organization.
The Take-Home Message About Coral Diseases:
Even without the rise in coral diseases, reefs are threatened by a variety of factors, both naturally occurring and human-related. The increased incidence of coral diseases around the world further threatens the health of our reefs. The health of corals affects the entire ocean.
The ocean's food web greatly depends on reefs. Without reefs, a large percentage of fish stocks would decline and eventually disappear. Fewer, if any, wild fish would be available for human consumption. Many coastal communities depend on coral reefs for food or tourism. And of course, your ocean dives would be much less interesting without one of the most colorful and biodiverse habitats on the planet. Please do what you can to keep coral reefs healthy!