When I say “fish”, almost everyone thinks of one of two things: either, the first fish you caught with grandpa, or the bright, vibrant fish of the coral reefs. That first fish is a priceless memory, the second belongs to some of the most beautiful and colorful creatures on this planet. And, unfortunately, those second fish are under threat. And, again, it’s our fault. Surprise!
The coral reefs of the world have been under threat for years now, with the effects of global warming and careless habitat destruction causing the reefs to bleach and die. The effects of this have been catastrophic to oceanic diversity, with 25% of all marine species calling these locations home. These massive coral reefs can protect the shoreline from incoming waves, provide tourism for local beaches, and help support fishing industries. They’re vital, necessary parts of our world’s ecosystem, and unfortunately, it’s dying. Rapidly.
Photo by Greenpeace
Amazingly and against all odds, though, the coral reefs are fighting back. While many of the known and establish reefs such as the Great Barrier Reef are rapidly dying off, there are some places of the world where the opposite is happening: reefs are beginning to appear. In one such case, a reef has been found along the coast where the Amazon River meets the Atlantic ocean. There are 600 miles of new, flourishing coral reefs that are also home to new creatures.
Rumors of this reef first began to pop up in 2012, and it wasn’t until 2016 that Greenpeace explorers confirmed the existence of this new reef. This is exciting news because, as stated above, it means there could possibly be new species of reef fish living in these locations. Also, the new reefs will mean boosted tourism for the local towns and a better fishing location for locals. It’s a win, win, win.
Photo by Greenpeace
As with all things, however, this new reef is already under threat by companies who wish to use the area. There are companies who wish to drill for oil amongst the reef and risk the chance of an oil spill. Greenpeace is staying in the area to try and help prevent this, but the location is, unfortunately, a hot spot for oil collection, and since the reef is so new and unknown it doesn’t have much protection yet.
It’s highly possible that this new reef might shed light on how and why the coral is adapting, as unlike many other reef systems, this new one is growing and existing in an area with limited light. Normally, and partially why the older reefs are struggling so much, coral reefs require pristine water and stable temperatures. As the air has been heated by Global Warming, the water has been too, which has stressed the coral out to the point where they bleach themselves. These requirements aren’t as severe for the new reef, and potentially this could mean, eventually, the old reefs could be helped or adapt on their own.
Photo By Greenpeace
The most important thing right now is protecting this new evolution of coral reefs. Even if it can’t help the already floundering older reefs, it could help us understand what we need to do to ensure more of these reefs grow. Or, possibly, help us find reefs that have already started to adapt, just like the amazon river coral reef did.