World Reef Awareness Day on June 1st serves as a call to action for consumers, businesses, and organizations to reflect on the delicate ecosystem of our ocean’s coral reefs. The day brings together the general public, influencers, and opinion leaders to create active change through education and engagement.
Coral reefs are living communities of colonial organisms made of individual polyps that excrete a bone-like skeleton. This skeleton forms large rock-like structures that are homes for thousands of organisms.
The health of a reef tells us a lot about the health of an ocean. Many fish and ocean animals rely on the protection of the healthy, living reef for spawning season. The reef also provides more than protection; it supplies a rich, thriving food chain, too. From plankton and algae to the largest sea creatures, the reef ecosystem is a significant life support system.
The benefits of a healthy reef ecosystem go far beyond the ocean. Coral reefs are:
- essential to the plant and fish life
- contribute to a lively fishing industry
- protect beaches and coastlines from erosion
- act as the oceans filter
- provide life-saving medicines and
- possibly the one animal on the planet capable of consuming plastic
In recent years, our most productive reefs have been in decline due to coral bleaching. For example, the Great Barrier Reef decreased by 40 percent. It’s even worse along with the Florida Keys and Caribbean. Their decline is between 85 and 99 percent! According to Dr. Craig Downs, Executive Director of Haereticus Environmental Lab, about 90 percent of the reefs in the Caribbean have disappeared since 1980.
What causes coral reefs to die off?
- Rising sea temperatures
- Industrial pollution, plastic pollution, sewage
- Chemical sunscreens and
- Unmanaged, high-density tourism all threaten coral reefs.
One easy step we can take to protect these precious resources is by wearing non-nano zinc oxide sunscreen
According to Dr. Craig Downs, “When ingredients are uncoated and nano-size (less than 100 nanometers in diameter), they can enter the cells of invertebrates and fish and cause tissue damage, stressing all these marine organisms. Your best bet is to go for non-nano zinc oxide larger than 150 nanometers. At that point, the acute toxicity drops off, and the impact on ecosystems is mitigated.”
Raw Elements founded World Reef Awareness Day on June 1st to inform the world about the importance of our reefs and how we can protect them. On May 16, 2019, the Registrar at National Day Calendar proclaimed World Reef Day to be observed on June 1st, annually.