Importance of Coral Reefs
Coral Reef From Above
Coral reefs are important to humans because they supply 30-40 million people with food each year. An additional 50 million people are supported because of the tourist industry and tropical fish business. Each year approximately $100 million is made just from fishing. Besides supplying us with food, reefs also regulate the amount of CO2 in the water. The oceans absorb 1/2 of all the CO2 that humans put into the atmosphere, and it is because of coral that the ocean continues to absorb CO2. Coral polyps absorb CO2 from the water and turn it into their hard, outer skeleton or shell so the coral can continue to grow. Also, coral reefs act as barrier to protect our shores from large waves and storms by dissipating them back out to sea.
Medicines from Coral Reefs
Sponge used to make medicine
In the past couple of years, researchers have discovered chemicals used to make medicines from corals and the animals that live on reefs around the world. For example, a painkiller has been made from cone snails, and new medicines that have not been fully tested yet help cure breast cancer, liver cancer, tumors, and leukemia. They are made from sponges and sea hares.