It is no secret that The Maldives offers unparalleled snorkelling and diving experiences - the best in the world - with its vibrant corals and colourful marine life.
Coral reefs are absolutely incredible and fascinating organisms that lie beneath tropical, sunlit waves. The Maldives, stretched across 26 atolls, is composed of thousands of coral reefs that provide a stunning, beautiful home for the diverse Maldivian marine life.
The concern is that for years now, with rising ocean temperatures, coral bleaching is accelerating in The Maldives and the health of the reefs and the eco-system is in jeopardy. Unfortunately, the coral reefs in The Maldives has suffered from extensive bleaching, affecting between up to 90% of its reefs.
How important are coral reefs?
Coral reefs are unique and complex ecosystems that populate our oceans with colour and life. However, pollution, disease and unaware tourists all cause coral reefs harm. With the continuous damage to coral reefs, this will lead to the destabilisation of our world ecology. On another note, coral reefs also serve to control the amount of carbon dioxide in the ocean, like trees do on earth, which gives them a vital role in the food chain as they purify the ocean. The destruction of coral reefs will affect us all and we all need to be aware of the ways in which we can help protect them and save our oceans.
What is coral reef bleaching?
Coral bleaching occurs which rising ocean temperatures. The process of bleaching is caused when warmer sea water stresses the coral and disrupts the symbiotic relationship with a micro-alga, causing the coral to expel the food source and turn white. As a result, bleached coral can starve and ultimately die. A prolonged spike in temperatures of just one to two degrees Celsius may be enough to kill corals. Today, around 60% of our planet’s coral reefs are at risk of disappearing.
Now if these facts are scaring you, it’s okay - we can do something about it, to help save coral reefs and our oceans. Here are some simple, effective actions you can take to help save coral reefs and the fish, animals and plants that depend on them.
On a day to day basis, what can you do to help the coral reefs?
1. SAVE WATER
This one is easy to implement: shorter showers, don’t leave to tap running, only do a clothes wash when the machine is full… These small daily habits can make a huge difference. The less water you use means that you are creating less wastewater. This means that you are decreasing the amount of wastewater that will pollute our oceans in return.
2. REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE
The slogan of eco-friendly pursuits, for a good reason. Make sure you recycle and dispose of your trash properly. We have all seen the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean and it is devastating. Not only is it killing the coral reefs but also our marine animals. Recycle your trash at home and on the go. Put your waste in the allocated bins, especially plastic, to avoid trash being blown or washed away into waterways and oceans.
3. USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Use environmentally-friendly modes of transportation. Why not walk, bike, take the train or bus instead of driving yourself somewhere?
If you do drive and want to buy a car, opt for a fuel-efficient vehicle like a hybrid or electric car. Using these cleaner transportation methods will definitely help reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses that are emitted into the air. It may not be obvious, but these emissions contribute to ocean acidification and in turn, increase ocean temperatures - leading to coral bleaching.
4. SAVE ELECTRICITY
Save electricity and energy at home and at work. Wherever you are. Remember to switch off the lights when leaving a room and turning off electronic devices when not using them. Invest in long-lasting light bulbs which will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change is one of the leading threats to coral reef survival.
5. VOLUNTEER & HELP CLEAN OUR PLANET
Plastic pollutes ocean waters, harms coral reefs and marine life. Support organisations that work to protect coral reefs, oceans, rivers, lakes or other waters in your area. Volunteer in local beach or reef cleanups. If you don't live near the ocean, get involved in protecting, helping and cleaning your local community.
6. SPREAD THE WORD
Spread the word and educate your community about the importance of coral reefs. You can share this information with your family, friends, schools and businesses and you can contact your local representatives to see what your state is doing to protect water quality and coral reefs. You can also demand that they take action to protect coral reefs, stop sewage pollution of our oceans, expand marine protected areas and take steps to reverse climate change.
7. PLANT A TREE AND ADOPT A CORAL
Why not create something of your own and plant your own tree? Help reduce global warming and the rising sea temperatures. You can also adopt a coral with Coral Gardeners and actively contribute to helping the ocean, even if you're not physically there.
8. RESEARCH & DONATE
If you want to learn more, research about coral reefs, their remarkable biodiversity and the special role they play for our oceans and our world. You can also donate and help the organisations that are already doing fantastic efforts to save corals. Some incredible organisations that help save our oceans and reefs include:
There are also many things you can do to ensure that you are environmentally conscious when you are at the beach and visit coral reefs.
So, when in the ocean, what can you do to help the coral reefs?
9. BE A RESPONSIBLE DIVER, SWIMMER, SNORKELER
In order to be respectful and responsible, you must avoid touching reefs or anchoring your boat on the reef. As soon as you come into contact with the reef, you will damage the delicate coral animals, and anchoring your boat on the reef can and will kill corals, so please look for sandy sea beds.
10. USE REEF-SAFE SUN CREAM
Opt for a sun cream that has doesn't have harmful chemicals that will damage corals when you enter the ocean. Several sunscreen ingredients, including oxybenzone and octinoxate, have been shown to be toxic to corals, so please inform yourself of safer choices for our beautiful corals. You can also avoid sunscreen altogether by wearing a long-sleeved shirt or rash guard to prevent sunburn.
11 . NEVER TAKE CORALS FROM THE OCEAN
If you see a pretty shell that you love, it's okay to take it as memorabilia as long as it doesn't have an animal in it! However, never take corals from the ocean, you can just admire them and if you have a GoPro, you can take a photo of them nut never take!
12. ONLY LEAVE FOOTPRINTS
Apart from not taking, you must also not leave anything behind. Don't leave unwanted trash, plastic or whatever in the water or on the beach. Any kind of litter pollutes the water and can harm the reef and fish.
That wraps it up! We hope that these tips will help you to become a more eco-friendly person who wants to help save our oceans and protect our stunning coral reefs. Keep sharing your knowledge and spreading the word about how important this is - your excitement should motivate others to get involved!
Feel free to check out our Budget Maldives Conservation trips for an amazing and affordable eco-holiday!
We hope this helps and please let us know if you have any other questions!
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