Pollution can suffocate coral reefs, reduce water quality, and render corals more prone to disease. When silt and other contaminants enter the water, they suffocate coral reefs, accelerate the growth of harmful algae, and reduce water quality. These effects are especially severe in coastal areas where many people live close to the sea.
The amount of pollution in the ocean has increased due to industrialization. Many chemicals find their way into the ocean through runoff from farms and cities or via litter. Some pollutants may harm marine animals directly, while others will flow into sediments that provide habitat for many species, including coral. If pollutants remain in the sediment for long enough, they can reach the water table under certain conditions. There, they can be re-entered by groundwater which may contain additional contaminants.
Coral reefs are affected by several types of pollution. One of the most serious is acidification. As industries release sulfur dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere, they contribute to acid rain which falls as sulfate particles onto land and water. The sulfur reacts with organic matter to create sulfide molecules which are very acidic. This process reduces the pH of seawater, making it more acidic than normal.
Acidified water attacks calcium carbonate structures such as coral skeletons and shells, destroying their protective layer of aragonite.
Sediment may suffocate a reef, shutting away the sunlight required for coral growth. Nutrients promote the growth of algae and seaweed, which fight for space with corals. According to Stephanie Wear of The Nature Conservancy, elevated nutrient levels can also contribute to increased rates of coral illness and bleaching. Coral mortality can then spread as water flows over the dead coral creating turbidity, or cloudiness, which prevents further growth.
Coral skeletons (stipes and plates) provide support for other organisms that live in close proximity to reefs, such as fish and shellfish. When coral dies, its location is taken by another organism, allowing more space for survival. This process of "coral replacement" continues until only the hardiest organisms are left standing. As long as there are individuals capable of reproducing, the process will continue indefinitely.
The weight of sediment on top of coral inhibits its ability to absorb light energy from surrounding sunlit areas. This can cause coral colonies to grow closer together to obtain enough light to survive. If light isn't distributed evenly, some colonies will grow too far away from their neighbors and die. This is called "colony splitting".
Heavy sedimentation can also cover living coral with a layer of mud that prevents it from receiving sunlight. This forms an environment unsuitable for coral reproduction or survival. Over time, all coral life will be affected by this form of death.
Runoff frequently transports huge amounts of silt from land clearance, high levels of nutrients from agricultural regions and sewage outflows, and contaminants including petroleum products and pesticides. Furthermore, silt deposited on reefs suffocates corals and impairs their capacity to eat and reproduce. Runoff also carries away the protective layer of algae that grows over coral surfaces. Without this algal cover, sunlight penetrates the coral tissue causing heat-stress and bleaching.
Coral reefs are rich in biodiversity. They provide habitat for many species of fish and shellfish as well as a number of unique invertebrates. The collapse of these ecosystems would have serious consequences for the livelihoods of people who depend on them for food and income. Coral reefs are also important for their role in maintaining ocean health. They act as natural filters by taking up carbon dioxide while producing oxygen as a by-product. They also protect shorelines from erosion and make beaches more attractive for swimming and surfing.
Because coral reefs are important for the well-being of humans and other animals, it is necessary to preserve them. The most effective way to do this is not clear but research is being carried out into ways to prevent damage from coastal development, agriculture, fishing practices, pollution, and climate change.
In conclusion, runoff is harmful to coral reefs because it removes the top layer of algae which provides color and protection to the coral.
Corals require shallow water where sunlight may reach them in order to flourish. Sediment can obscure the water and settle on corals, obstructing the sun and hurting the polyps. Wastewater released into the ocean near the reef can contain an excessive amount of nutrients, causing algae to overgrow the reef. Algae compete with the coral for light and space, forcing the coral to sink or die.
Light is also important for fish. Many species use bright colors or patterns to ward off predators; others hide from threats by moving into deeper waters or under rocks at night. Less obvious effects of light include the ability of photosynthetic organisms to use light energy and the harmful effects of excess light on non-photosynthetic organisms. Photosynthesis occurs when plants use carbon dioxide and water molecules together with solar radiation to produce organic compounds such as glucose and starch that fuel growth and reproduction. The process requires a lot of energy and often results in the production of oxygen as a byproduct. This oxygen then goes on to help other organisms such as bacteria and fungi.
Exposure to high levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation can be especially damaging to corals because it causes mutations and cancerous tumors. The UV rays that reach the surface of the earth are filtered out by the atmosphere, but they are still capable of penetrating deep into the sea where they can damage living organisms. Corals are particularly susceptible to UV radiation because they lack skin layers that protect animals with more efficient photoreceptors.
Coral reef ecosystems will become extinct as a result. Liquid trash, which contains a variety of toxic compounds such as chemical pesticides, chlorine, and other garbage, has the potential to destroy coral reefs and coastal ecosystems. Also check the article The Importance of Coral Reefs in Shoreline Protection.
Coral reefs provide many benefits for humans, including food and water protection. Destroy these beautiful structures and you risk destroying many more things than just coral - you're also risking fish habitats, shoreline protection, and even tourism revenues. The bottom line is this: if you throw away liquid trash, don't expect coral reefs to be any help when they fail to recover after being polluted.
Coral reefs are important for many reasons. Not only do they provide valuable habitat for fish, but they also protect coastlines from erosion and flooding. If you visit coral reefs, you can see how vital they are for the well-being of not only themselves, but also their surroundings. It's clear that we need to take care of them.
The best way to protect coral reefs is by not dumping liquid trash in the ocean. If you have any leftover chemicals, try to find safer alternatives or simply avoid using pesticides on your garden. This will help prevent pollution that could damage the environment and leave corals vulnerable to extinction.