The current administration has proposed massive budget cuts to marine programs. The 17% cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) include the elimination of the Sea Grant program, which distributes federal funds to states with oceanfronts and along the Great Lakes. This includes Hawaii, which has coral reefs stretching 1,200 miles that make up 85% of the U.S.’ reefs. Coral are living organisms which are very sensitive to temperature changes. Climate change is increasing ocean temperatures, leading to widespread coral bleaching — a condition that causes the organisms to turn white and become more susceptible to disease. In addition, increased carbon dioxide from cars and other human sources is dissolving in oceans, creating ocean acidification. Even small decreases in ocean pH hampers coral’s ability to absorb the calcium carbonate they need to maintain their skeletons and survive. Various studies have calculated that the world has lost one fifth to one half of its coral reefs since the early 80’s. Here’s a petition to save the Sea Grant program.
This week, we donated to Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL), a nonprofit organization based in Oakland, CA with a global reach. CORAL protects and restores coral reefs in partnership with the communities that live near them. CORAL develops custom solutions for each community, focusing on sustainable development and tourism, reef management and education, the reduction of overfishing, and helping communities benefit financially from conservation. For example, in 2016 in Roatan, Honduras, CORAL improved water quality by connecting 188 homes and businesses to a wastewater treatment facility and treating 82 million gallons of sewage and wastewater. CORAL’s work benefits coral reefs and surrounding communities in Hawaii, Mexico, Honduras, Fiji, and Indonesia.
We believe that the work done by CORAL is so important because healthy coral reefs are a crucial part of a healthy planet. Not only do coral reefs contain incredibly diverse ecosystems and provide habitats and shelter for many marine animals, they also protect our coastlines from the damaging effects of tropical storms and surge water. In addition to this, coral reefs are such a stunning and special part of our environment! We loved our experiences snorkeling around coral reefs in Hawaii, reveling in the beauty of the fish and sea creatures we saw there. We can’t imagine our world without coral reefs, and we need to do everything we can to help protect them.