2009 Mexican Eco-Blogging Green Adventure Diving and Coral Reefs
Posted Apr 02 2009 11:57am
Visiting Centro Ecological Akumal was a fantastic educational experience. Scuba-diving and snorkeling is the only way to truly immerse one-self in the coral eco-system, and learning more about how to protect this rich environment is important. According to Paul Sanchez-Navarro, Director of Centro Ecological Akumal, coral reefs have declined worldwide due to many factors from fertilizer run-off to temperature rises to pollution of all sorts. This makes coral reefs perhaps the most endangered marine ecosystem on Earth.
Having the distinct privilege of visiting this fragile ecosystem is an experience of a lifetime for our family. While visiting the coral reefs we are very careful to not touch the coral itself. We view from a distance, floating in the ocean and watching the amazing diversity of life.
Paul Sanchez-Navarro (pictured with me above) told me that where we are visiting on the Yucatan Peninsula is the most extensive reef development in the country of Mexico. Here the continental shelf is very narrow, in many places less than two kilometers wide. There are partly submerged fringing reefs along much of this coastline. Sadly, the world's second largest coral reef is having difficulty surviving many pollution issues, especially those related to cruise ships full of tourists anchoring off Mexico's coast.
While we sat and ate lunch on a beautiful Akumal beach, my eight year old and I noticed the beach had less sand and tons of broken and bleached coral. It made for interesting beachcombing and a lot of discussion about what life would be like without coral reefs. About one quarter of all marine species are believed to depend on coral at some stage of their development. Many fish live their entire lives on reefs, while others use them as nurseries; if the coral dies out it is assumed the fish will too. The economic impact of losing coral is also significant – in the billions of dollars worldwide.
What will happen if we are unable to provide fish for the world to eat? Will people starve? Without the coral and fish, millions of people will lose their jobs and be unable to support themselves. Without smaller fish which inhabit the coral reefs will all the larger fish die such as tuna and shark?
These questions are questions we should all be asking. Why? Because WE are contributing to the death of these coral ecosystems by adding fertilizer run off and increasing carbon dioxide levels to the earth. It is not all happening because of tourists – our activities touch the coral reefs just like our activities touch our own neighborhood. WE need to be better stewards of the earth or we might cause our own destruction.
Right now – today – you should be asking this: “What can I do to make a difference for the world?” And you should be doing whatever you can. Damage to coral reefs and ocean fish is not only done by irresponsible divers or snorkelers, it is also done by all of us. Asking this question is important not just because it’s good for the earth, but also because it touches you DIRECTLY. Take responsibility, use chemicals only when you absolutely have to. Reduce your carbon footprint. Get started helping our ecosystems today.
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