With the recent news that the Great Barrier Reef has lost over half its coverage due to warming seas and human impact, there’s never been a more important time to mark Coral Reef Awareness Week. The beauty of coral reefs and the animals who call them home are fast declining. But how can you help to maintain our coral reefs on an individual level? Here are six easy ways to make a difference.
What goes into the ground goes into the ocean
If you’re a keen gardener, remember that the strong chemicals in fertiliser and pesticides go into the ground. When it rains, this enters the water system and eventually leaches into the ocean, harming the animals that live there, including coral. Try and choose a more environmentally friendly alternative – there are lots of simple and natural ways to tend your garden.
Choose ethical personal care products
By the same logic, what you use in the shower goes into the ocean. Choose a shampoo and soap made from organic, natural ingredients to lessen the number of chemicals entering the water supply. Many sun creams also have an adverse effect on corals because they contain oxybenzone. Research other brands that don’t have harmful chemicals.
Practice responsible diving and snorkelling
If you’re on holiday and want to take a trip to see some coral reefs (and who wouldn’t want to) make sure that you and the tour operator are following the correct approach. Try as hard as you can not to touch coral or other marine life and avoid any tour operators that don’t follow this code.
Help to clean up the ocean
As you’re enjoying spotting wildlife like reef sharks, turtles and rays, it’s nice to give something back by taking a dive bag with you and picking up any rubbish that you find. You might be surprised by how much there is. Plastic waste is a particular culprit found in most reefs, not only being confused for food by some marine animals but also leaching toxic chemicals into the water. Make sure that your group don’t leave anything behind on your trip.
In many places like the Philippines, overfishing has led to some fishermen turning to destructive techniques like dynamiting fish. Make sure your fish comes from a sustainable source when you’re shopping or eating out. And refuse that straw with your meal – it goes without saying now that plastic straws are incredibly harmful to all marine life.
Spread the word about Coral Reef Awareness Week
Many people want to help clean up and protect our reefs but aren’t necessarily aware of how they can help by making positive choices in their everyday lives. By hashtagging #coralreefawareness and sharing how you’re making a difference this Coral Reef Awarness Week, you can help inspire others to do the same.
Even though the damage we’ve caused to coral reefs has been widely reported in the media, there are still companies out there who pose a threat to our remaining reefs. Sign this Greenpeace petition to stop BP and Total from drilling near Brazil’s Amazon reef.
Blog post by OneKind Planet writer Katherine Dawson.