WILDCOAST – A voice for the coast and the ocean

WANDER WITH WILDCOAST: Coral Reefs

coral reef

 

Off the Mexican Pacific coastline and in the Gulf of California you’ll find some of the world’s most beautiful coral reefs.

Corals come in a dazzling array of shapes and sizes.

And in a symphony of colors.

Reefs are formed by colonies of individual organisms called coral polyps that secrete a hard, calcium carbonate housing to protect them from predators. Believe it or not, corals are actually animals!

Their vibrant colors are produced by a photosynthetic algae called zooxanthellae, which lives inside of coral cells.  

Called the “rainforests of the sea” for their astounding richness of life, coral reefs provide shelter, nursery habitats, and breeding grounds for a variety of ocean residents. In the Gulf of California, reefs support habitat for at least 450 wildlife species, including sea turtles, sharks, invertebrates, and a multitude of fish.

Talk about biodiversity!

Healthy coral reefs are critical for healthy oceans and humans, as they provide a first-line defense against storms and swells, rising sea levels, and other impacts of climate change.

But coral reefs are also fragile. Local pollution, overfishing, coastal development, warming temperatures, and ocean acidification are taking their toll. It has been estimated that in the next 30 years, approximately 90% of coral reefs may die due to the effects of climate change.

But there is still time to save the reefs!

That’s why WILDCOAST is working with Mexico’s National Commission for Natural Protected Areas (CONANP), tourism outfitters, and local communities to safeguard eight protected areas —some 37.37 million acres of marine and coastal ecosystems including Cabo Pulmo, Isla Espíritu Santo, Huatulco, Islas Marias, Islas Marietas, Isla Isabel, Chamela, and recently Revillagigedo—that are home to thousands of acres of coral reef ecosystems.

WILDCOAST has installed 210 mooring buoys (with more to come), so boats don’t drop anchor and damage the coral reefs when visiting Huatulco and Isla Espiritu Santo National Parks.

We’re training local communities and tourism outfitters in reef stewardship and providing educational materials to schools.

And developing science-based, consistent, and standardized ecological monitoring.

Finally, a big victory occurred in the fall of 2019 when WILDCOAST helped secure the legal protection of two Pacific Ocean coral species that are now on Mexico’s federal endangered species list. 

Meet Pocillopora inflata.

And Porites sverdrupi.

This conservation success makes us and some of the reef’s residents very happy.

So please help us protect these treasures of the sea.

 

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