Oct 21, 2011
Protecting our Ecosystems
The importance of coral reefs to the sea bed
“Tropical and Riviera Maya coral reefs are very productive ecosystems. Not only are do they support enormous biodiversity, they are also of immense value to humankind”, says Martin Harvey, from WWF.
If you need a number to believe it, there’s a big one from The Nature Conservancy-Global Marine Initiative: The annual global economic value of coral reefs has been estimated at $US375 billion. Here are the reasons:
1. Coral reefs are the most valuable marine habitats for over 100 countries around the world, including the Riviera Maya at Mexico, where Xel-Há Park is located. They produce more living biomass than any other marine ecosystem. Although coral reefs cover less than 1% of the Earth’s surface, they are home to 25% of all marine fish species.
2. That’s why coral reefs are vital to the world’s fisheries. An estimated one billion people have some dependence on coral reefs for food and income from fishing.
3. Coral reefs form natural barriers that protect nearby shorelines from the eroding forces of the sea, just like the Xel-Há’s shorelines, as an example. They break the power of the waves during storms, hurricanes, typhoons, and even tsunamis. The reefs save billions of dollars each year in terms of reduced insurance and reconstruction costs.
4. Tourism revenues generated by coral reefs are also significant. Sustainably managed coral reef-based tourism, just like Xel-Há does at the Riviera Maya, can also provide significant alternative or additional sources of income to poorer coastal communities in developing countries.
5. Coral reefs biodiversity is the key to finding new treatment of diseases such as cancer, arthritis, human bacterial infections, viruses, and even ulcers.
However, coral reefs are fragile ecosystems, partly because they are very sensitive to water temperature. As responsible tourists, there are many things we can do to preserve the coral reef. To use a biodegradable sunscreen when visiting the beach is one of them, that’s why we ask you to change your sunscreen at Xel-Há or a biodegradable one.