Coral reefs are some of the most diverse and valuable ecosystems on Earth. Like rainforests and mangroves, they host a great diversity of life, supporting 25% of the ocean’s fish and many other species. They protect shorelines from storms and erosion, support commercial fisheries and tourism, and are a source of food, medicine, and recreation for humans.
Healthy coral reefs are magical, wondrous places, and they are essential for the planet's ecological balance.
Because coral conservation benefits the health and well-being of us all, our mission at WFCRC is to promote and support coral conservation efforts through mapped data collections that can be used for research, policy-making, and education.
Coral face many threats and each compounds the effects of others.
While many argue that rising temperatures that cause bleaching is one of the most significant factors in coral mortality, other stressors may also lead to death and coral decline. More importantly, each stressor impacts coral's ability to be resilient against the next stressor. For example, a coral system that is managing excess algae as a result of overfishing may have an even more difficult time surviving a bleaching event due to temporary a heat wave.
Some of the primary threats against coral include:
Coral reefs are at a critical junction. As many scientists have noted, the planet is in its sixth mass extinction event. Unless changes are made to slow climate change, address pollution and overfishing, and better manage and protect our oceans, WFCRC's current mapping may become historical documentation. It is with this sense of urgency that we realize we may be documenting the last of many coral species.
We hope that with our Collaborative Beach and Coral Reef Registry, our team of divers, research scientists, and citizen scientists, we can work with educators, policy makers, and individuals to do everything we can to find healthy, sustainable ways to better support coral, our oceans, our planet, and each other.
Change starts with education. The more we know about coral and the delicate balance of life in any ecosystem, the better choices we can make as individuals and communities. The more we are involved in education and knowledge-sharing, the better prepared we'll be in moving forward.
The data found in the Collaborative Beach and Coral Reef Registry is meant to support decision making at local and regional levels and encourage thoughtful, forward-thinking policies that benefit the environment that effects us all. While WFCRC currently focuses on the waters around Florida, USA, our shared mapping system can provide a model for shared data and informed, real-time decision-making around the world.