What do reefs mean to you?
Pictures speak a thousand words
In celebration of the International Year of the Reef 2008, Reef Check is running an International “What do reefs mean to you?” Photo Contest. The contest will highlight the numerous ways in which people value their local reefs through activities such as diving, snorkeling, surfing and fishing, as well as indigenous cultural activities and commercial ventures such as tourism. The goal is to persuade people, through appreciation of these images, to take actions that benefit these ecosystems.
The Reef Check International website will host a photo gallery portal where participants, upon becoming members of the RC network, can upload photos and vote for favorites. Participants can submit entries from July 1st, through August 31st, 2008. The categories are:
Tropical coral reefs
People and the Reef
Creative Visions of Coral Reefs
California rocky reefs
Teams in Action
Young photographer - tropical and California reefs
Beauty of the Reef
Why are reefs important?
- Reefs attract millions of tourists on an annual basis and tourism is the largest industry in the world
- Hard corals build up reefs that eventually become land masses, many tropical islands in the world are built on old coral reefs
- Oceans and corals help regulate the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere
- Coral reefs are the rainforests of the sea
- The skeletons of some hard coral species are used by doctors as bone substitute in reconstructive surgery
- Reefs provide shelter and act as nurseries for millions of marine organisms
- Reefs and associated ecosystems protect coastlines and coastal villages from being eroded and washed away by storms and waves
- New medicines are discovered on reefs every year that can potentially fight against ailments such as heart disease, cancer and AIDS, ailments that claim millions of lives every year
- Coral reefs occupy less than 1% of the earth yet provide food and income for over 350 million people annually
- Corals live for hundreds of years making them good recorders of climate and other global changes
- Reefs are ESSENTIAL to the health of our PLANET and to our LIVES
What can you do to save reefs?
- Become a member of Reef Check
or email email@example.com for details.
- Support reef-friendly businesses.
Ask what your dive shop, boating store, tour operators, hotel and other coastal businesses are doing to save the coral reefs. Let them know how you are an informed consumer and care about reefs.
- Don’t use chemically enhanced pesticides and fertilizers.
Although you may live thousands of miles from a coral reef ecosystem, these products end up in the watershed and may ultimately impact the waters that support coral.
- Volunteer for a reef cleanup.
You don’t live near a coral reef? Then do what many people do on their vacation: visit a coral reef. Spend an afternoon enjoying the beauty of one of the world’s treasures while helping to preserve it for future generations.
- Learn more about coral reefs.
How many different species live in reefs? What new medicines have been discovered in reef organisms? Participate in training or educational programs that focus on reef ecology. You can find out about these trainings at www.reefcheck.org. When you further your own education, you can help others understand the fragility and value of the world’s coral reefs.
- Become a member of your local aquarium or zoo.
Ask what they are doing and what your donation can do towards saving the world’s coral reefs. The answer may pleasantly surprise you.
- When you visit a coral reef, help keep it healthy by respecting all local guidelines, recommendations, regulations, and customs.
Ask local authorities or your dive shop how to protect the reef.
- When you visit a coral reef, always wear waterproof sun block.
This keeps it from coming off in the water and causing pollution.
- When snorkeling, always wear a flotation device.
This keeps you from getting tired and stepping on the reefs which could break or kill it.
- Never take a piece of the reef
Not even a small bit.
- Don’t buy food to feed the fish when visiting a reef.
When the fish find their own food on the reef, it keeps it healthy.
- Support conservation organizations.
Many of them have coral reef programs, and your much-needed monetary support will make a big difference.
- Spread the word.
Remember your own excitement at learning how important the planet’s coral reefs are to us and the intricate global ecosystem. Sharing this excitement gets everyone you speak with involved.
Click here to learn more
Reef Check is a grassroots organization dedicated to saving reefs worldwide
Our teams of scientists and recreational divers monitor the health of reefs in over 90 countries and territories. We train volunteer divers, regardless of their scientific background, using a scientifically sound, yet simple monitoring method that allows them to collect important data that we analyze and make accessible to governments and other interested parties globally. In addition to our educational goals, we work with local coastal communities and businesses all over the world on projects that support sustainable socioeconomic development.