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To celebrate the International Year of the Reef 2008 (IYOR 2008), NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation led the development of a U.S. messaging campaign. The theme is “Coral reefs for health, for wealth, for life,” which recognizes the value of coral reef ecosystems. To complement the tag line of “Every Act Counts,” five action messages were developed to raise awareness of the effects of everyday actions on coral reefs.
Whether you live one mile or one thousand miles from a coral reef, your actions affect the reefs’ future — and the reefs’ future affects yours. As the natural guardians of our shores, reefs play a vital role in our global ecosystem. With climate change, pollution, and overfishing contributing to coral reef degradation, we can all play a role in protecting our land, sea, and sky. All it takes is a few simple changes to your daily routine.
Long-lasting light bulbs are a bright idea. If every household in the U.S. replaced a burned out bulb with an energy-efficient bulb, it would prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to that from at least 800,000 cars. Climate change is one of the leading threats to coral reef survival, so let your conservation light shine.
It stinks to send chemicals into our waterways. The chemicals we use to clean our houses and beautify our lawns end up in our waterways and are carried to the ocean. Do your part by using naturally-derived and biodegradable detergents and cleaning products.
Corals are already a gift. Don’t give them as presents. Corals are popular as souvenirs, for home décor, and in costume jewelry, yet corals are living animals that eat, grow, and reproduce. It takes corals decades or longer to create reef structures, so leave corals and other marine life on the reef.
Don’t drag the reef into this. Use reef mooring buoys when available. Or anchor in sandy areas away from coral and sea grasses so that anchor and chain do not drag on nearby corals or tear up sea grass beds.
The ocean floor is not a dance floor. Coral reefs are alive. Stirred-up sediment can smother corals and each inch of reef can take decades to redevelop once broken. Divers and snorkelers can do their part by maintaining proper buoyancy control, never touching reefs, and spreading the word about coral reef stewardship.
For more information on how you can help conserve coral reefs, visit www.coralreef.noaa.gov. To download free copies of these action messages, visit www.iyorcreative.com. To learn more about IYOR 2008, visit www.iyor.org.