How to Take Action to Save Coral Reefs

Three Methods:Funding and Supporting Reef ProtectionHelping Keep Reefs HealthyVisiting Reefs Thoughtfully

Coral reefs are some of the world's most stunning and biologically diverse environments. Unfortunately, these systems are very sensitive to human activity and are under considerable threat. However, through education and conversation, there are ways for you to become a better steward of the world's coral reefs.

Method 1
Funding and Supporting Reef Protection

  1. 1
    Learn and share information about coral reefs. The more you get to know about coral reefs, the more you will learn how absolutely vital they are to many ocean organisms. Once you've learned more sufficient information, start sharing your knowledge about coral reefs to help many other people to become more aware of the damage being done to reefs and what they can do to help stop this.[1]
    • Coral reefs are home to thousands of different organisms and species of fish, many of which are endangered themselves. Since each of these organisms plays its own important role in the ocean’s ecosystem, the loss of their home—the reefs—can have a seriously detrimental effect on the ocean overall.
    • Involve others by teaching them to appreciate the beauty and ecological importance of coral reefs.
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    Donate to a charity focused on helping coral reefs. If you have some extra cash, you can donate on the web or through the mail to various charities that fund the conservation and protection of coral reefs. The Coral Reef Alliance, The Reef-World Foundation, Coral Cay Conservation, and even your local aquarium are some reputable suggestions, just to name a few.
    • Zoos and aquariums may offer useful information, and are often very involved in conservation efforts.
    • You can support these organizations with time, money, or by simply spreading the word.
  3. 3
    Use social media to raise awareness. Thanks to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it’s easy to quickly and widely spread the word about causes you’re supporting. Make a post on your social media platforms directing your friends and followers towards coral reef conservation websites and donation pages.[2]
    • Follow social media accounts associated with different coral reef preservation and protection groups and organizations. Try re-posting or reblogging their posts to keep your own followers in the loop and updated on the issue.
  4. 4
    Contact elected officials. Whether you live near the water or not, you can urge your local or state representatives to take part in saving and conserving coral reefs. From voting on important issues to using their governmental platform to raise awareness of the issue, these elected officials can be especially helpful in the battle to save coral reefs.
    • If you live in the US, you can easily find out how to contact any elected official via the federal government’s website.[3]
  5. 5
    Hand out flyers. Print a pre-made information flyer from an existing coral reef conservation organization or create your own with facts provided by these organizations. Print copies at home, or go to your local print shop. Then, head to an area populated with a good amount of pedestrians, and hand the flyers out. This gets the information into the hands of other people and helps spread awareness of the issue.
    • You could try setting up an information booth in a public space, as well. You could hand out flyers, and also offer information on how others can become involved themselves. Just make sure you have any permissions needed before setting up.

Method 2
Helping Keep Reefs Healthy

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    Control trash and chemical runoff from your property. If possible, get your neighborhood involved. Harmful things like herbicides, oil, and garbage can travel hundreds of miles through waterways and end up in reef ecosystems. By limiting the amount of runoff and garbage polluting your own neighborhood, you can help cut down on the runoff and pollution that eventually reaches the ocean and damages coral reefs.[4]
    • A plastic bag you might toss aside in the middle of a city could still find its way to the ocean—via storm drains and waterways, even garbage generated far from the oceans can potentially end up there.[5]
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    Conserve water whenever possible. Whether this means making your washing loads fuller, your showers shorter, or fixing that leaky faucet you've had for years, make it happen. With less water wasted, the less runoff water there will be to return to and pollute the oceans.[6]
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    Reduce your carbon footprint. Coral reefs are extremely sensitive to global warming. With more fossil fuels being put into the atmosphere, the more global warming occurs. When the sea water temperatures rises, even just one or two degrees, coral bleaching can occur. This is when a reef releases the algae that lives inside of it. This algae is what gives the reef its color, so losing it causes the coral to appear white, hence being called “bleached.” Although reefs can sometimes recover from these episodes, it can take several months to years for it to be restored. More often, though, the coral dies after bleaching.[7]
    • Carpool, walk, bike, or take public transportation as much as you can. Upgrade your home appliances for newer, energy efficient ones. Turn off lights when they aren’t in use, and unplug devices when you aren’t using them. Consider cutting animal products out of your diet—the resources it takes to raise cattle, for example, have had detrimental impacts on the environment.[8]
  4. 4
    Protest against destructive fishing methods. There are many methods of fishing that can cause a huge negative impact on the ocean, including dynamite fishing and poison fishing.These methods can damage coral reefs along with all the life inside it. Find ways to protest against these fishing methods, either through joining an existing protest organization or starting one yourself.[9]
    • You can also sign internet-based petitions to end these kinds of fishing, or support existing local efforts. Do a little research into your local area to see what options there are for joining up.[10]
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    Be a smart consumer. Avoid purchasing products that may have come from coral reefs. For example, avoid buying dry coral, which is often chipped off the live reef, or buying tropical fish that were caught in the wild.These fish were important components of coral reef ecosystems. Removing them from their natural habitats can be detrimental to coral, and to the fish species at large.[11]

Method 3
Visiting Reefs Thoughtfully

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    Navigate carefully in watercraft. Get charts ahead of your visit that show where the coral reefs are located. Avoid disturbing them with fishing gear, anchors, or high speed motoring. The best time to navigate watercraft in coral-rich areas is when the sun is high in the sky, making the coral easy to see. You can also try wearing polarized sunglasses to help see the coral in the water.[12]
    • Be mindful of where you drop anchor when boating. Coral is easily broken by anchors and boats, and breakage can lead to the coral’s death.[13]
  2. 2
    Avoid touching corals in the wild. Reefs are a wonderful place to dive and explore, but coral polyps, the living animals which make up coral, are very fragile. When scuba diving or snorkeling, make sure not to kick the coral, stand or sit on it, or even hold it in your hand. You could potentially cause great damage, even without intending to.[14]
    • Simply the oil in your skin can be damaging to coral. It might be tempting to reach out and touch the coral to see what it feels like, or just for the experience, but doing so could be detrimental to the coral.
  3. 3
    Take care when snorkeling and diving. Aside from just being careful about touching or kicking the coral when diving, you need to be careful about what you bring in the water with you. Even the sunscreen you put on your skin before entering the water could ultimately be harmful to the coral. Try choosing a sunscreen that is eco-friendly, or a sunscreen that reflects the sun rather than absorbing it.[15]
    • Be mindful of any gear you have with you. If you are taking underwater photos, for example, keep your gear close to you and don’t let it knock into the coral. Keep your fins in mind when snorkeling. Make sure you don’t hit the coral with them while kicking and swimming. Stay high above the coral and observe it from near the surface.[16]
  4. 4
    Consider staying away completely. The one true method of preventing accidental damage to coral reefs is to not dive or swim near them at all. It might not be the most ideal option, especially for tourists or travellers who desire an up close and personal experience, but it might be one of the only ways to keep reefs completely safe from damages caused by tourists and visitors.


  • Set up a bake sale to raise funds to donate to coral reef-saving charities and organizations.
  • Get your friends involved!

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