The ocean may not be the first thing that comes to your mind when you live in a city like Memphis, Tennessee. However, did you know that even living this far from the ocean, you can have an impact?
The ocean covers 70% of the Earth’s surface. Every waterway has the ability to impact the ocean. When we pollute our rivers or streams with chemicals or plastics, that can end up in the ocean. We have seen a drastic decline in the health of our oceans over the last decade and much of that has to do with negative human impact. For the sake of our future, we need to take care of our oceans. The ocean is responsible for over half the world’s oxygen and stores 50 times more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere, much of that coming from coral reef ecosystems.
There are over a million species that live in the ocean. Many of these animals live in a coral reef or they are at least affected by a coral reef. Coral Reefs are the most diverse and valuable ecosystem in the marine environment. The benefits of coral reef habitats are countless, and the impact of the loss of coral reefs will be devastating for the future of the oceanic ecosystems. Humankind have become their biggest threat. Coral Reefs have symbiotic algae that live in their tissues serving as its primary food source and gives the coral it’s vibrant color. Coral bleaching is when the algae is expelled from the coral due to environmental stressors and causes the coral to look white and lifeless. Light pollution, temperature changes, and nutrient deficits are some of the stressors initiated by human impact. Coral can survive a bleaching event, however, it is very hard for the coral to recover if there are prolonged stressors. That is why it is so important to do your part in preserving these underwater ecosystems!
What can you do to protect the ocean even if you don’t live by the ocean? Let me tell you!
Happy World Oceans day from your friends here at the Memphis Zoo!
Article By: Jessica Faulk