When you first think of coral reefs, maybe you think of bright colors, beautiful fish, weird shapes, Finding Nemo… And all those things are true. Coral reefs are one of the most spectacular ecosystems on Earth. For me, visiting them is almost like experiencing alien life on another planet, but in fact they’re just right off the beach beneath the waves.
Ecological wonder aside though, they are incredibly valuable. Despite covering less than 1% of the ocean floor, coral reefs sustain 25% of marine life and provide food, jobs, and shelter to up one billion people. They generate $30 billion annually through tourism, fisheries, and coastal protection, providing the lifeblood for communities, countries, and industries. In many nations, coral reefs form the bedrock of cultural heritage, like in Hawaii, where origin stories tell of all life actually emerging from a coral polyp. And they also are a source of countless compounds used in existing and yet-to-be-discovered life-saving pharmaceuticals – some estimate that coral reefs have 300-400 times more medicinal compounds than tropical rainforests.
Sadly, all of this is threatened by global reef degradation. Which is why we’re doing what we are doing at Coral Vita.