02 February 2011 Wreaking Havoc on Coral Reefs Posted by: Caitlin Leutwiler | 3 comments | Share: Coral reefs and their wildlife, like bright orange clownfish, sea anemones and colorful sponges, face threats like climate change and overfishing every day. But there’s a lesser known threat lurking among the waves: international trade in coral reef animals for “ornamental” uses like home and business aquariums, jewelry and household decorations. Although some coral importers demand responsible stewardship, most do not. As a result, coral reef wildlife sold in the U.S. are typically collected and imported using practices that cause significant environmental harm. In many cases, people collecting coral wildlife will crush corals, or dump poisons like cyanide, bleach or gasoline into the water to stun fish and other wildlife, making them easier to gather. These practices damage or even destroy corals and other important species that build the reef habitat. Collection also removes ecologically important species, like parasite cleaners and algae grazers, thereby reducing biodiversity. To make matters worse, up to 40% of animals taken for importation die shortly after they are collected. That means collectors must take even more animals from the reefs, which further increases the damage to the entire ecosystem. The fate of the Banggai Cardinalfish, a striking yellow and black striped fish with delicate, arching fins, is an example of the tragic consequences of irresponsible harvesting practices. After just six years of collection for ornamental use, the Banggai Cardinalfish population dropped by more than 50%. Finding a solution: Defenders is working with other conservation and humane advocates to find solutions to this problem. But YOU can help too! If you plan to buy fish or other wildlife for a home or business aquarium, ask the vendor for assurances that the creatures were collected and imported using sustainable and humane practices. By improving the way we trade in coral reef wildlife, we can protect the health and unique beauty of coral reef wildlife and ecosystems and make sure they’re here for generations to come. Learn more: This week, Defenders’ coral scientist Dr. Dan Thornhill talked with host June Stoyer from The Organic View about how both climate change and the wildlife trade can impact the health of coral reefs. Click here to download the interview! Feeling the Heat: Hear Defenders’ board member Jeff Corwin talk about the world’s coral reefs – and how climate change is slowly killing these magnificent hotspots of biodiversity. 3 Responses to “Wreaking Havoc on Coral Reefs” Post Your Comment Click here to cancel reply. Name (required) Mail (required) (will not be published) You May also be interested in It’s Time to Act for Right Whales Years after they agreed to expand critical habitat for endangered North Atlantic right whales, we’re still waiting on NMFS to follow through. So we took to the courts to get this much-needed protection in place. How Should We Honor Earth Day? America has many worldwide firsts in conservation: we were the first nation to establish a national park, the first to create a national wildlife refuge, the first to approve a law protecting endangered species and the first to create a national day dedicated to conservation, Earth Day. But today, we are experiencing another period of crisis in America’s commitment to conservation. When did conservation become a polarizing political issue, when it has been, for the past century, a defining characteristic of American values and the American spirit? Ecological Insults and Injuries Revealed Four Years after Deepwater Horizon Four years after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig spilled millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, we’re beginning to see the full scope of how this ecological disaster is impacting our wildlife on land, air and sea.