Much of the life beneath the surface of the sea revolves around coral reefs, living structures that provide food and quarters for many aquatic species. But human activities on land are threatening life within the coral reefs. Iâ€™m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Ambience: Great Barrier reefs
The sounds weâ€™re listening to were recorded at Australiaâ€™s Great Barrier Reef.
â€œCoral reefs are a complex ecosystem with corals being the dominant feature that actually make the structure of the reef, but there are many animals and plants that associate with the reef structure itself.â€
Lucy Bunkley-Williams is a research associate in the Marine Sciences department of the University of Puerto Rico.
â€œCoral reefs exist in a marine desert where there are very low nutrients. We wouldn’t have the many kinds of fishes or the many different kinds of invertebrates that live on a reef if it wasn’t for the coral reef actually providing the physical living spaces and the nutrients in this otherwise normally desert area of the ocean.â€
But reefs appear to be sensitive to man made changes in their environment.
â€œCoral reefs usually occur on tropical areas where there hasnâ€™t in the past been very much agriculture. Now man is beginning to farm these places, plowing the soil; when it rains the runoff goes onto the coral reef. Not only does it physically cover the corals themselves, the sediment, but it adds nutrients to the water. (184) Not just with the soil itself but when you fertilize it runs onto the reef and the algae in the water grow, they shade the corals, they filter out the light, and they’re not able to grow as well.â€
Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, to encourage respect for our environment.