Coral reefs of Costa Rica
Coral reefs are considered one of the most diverse and complex ecosystems that exist on the planet. Perhaps one quarter of all ocean species depend on these unique marine ecosystems, teeming with life, for food and shelter. For this reason, coral reefs are often called the “rainforests of the sea”.
They grow in shallow, clear water to a depth of 60 meters (197 feet) in tropical and subtropical seas. Corals are live animals related to sea anemones. Stony corals – the most popular coral in the tropics – build structures out of calcium carbonate that form tropical reefs.
Coral reefs are very important to humans, providing food (all the fish species), protection of shorelines, jobs based on tourism, and even medicines. Unfortunately, people also pose the greatest threat to coral reefs, which are being destroyed at an alarming rate by pollution, overfishing, accelerated coastal development, sedimentation, and other factors. One-tenth of the world’s coral reefs have been destroyed and nearly a third of them are in serious danger, according to scientists.
In the southern Pacific gulf of Golfo Dulce in Costa Rica, live coral coverage was 29% to 46% at the end of the 1980′s, but it was reported as being less than 10% since the end of the 1990′s, due to sedimentation by deforestation and other factors. That is why we take every care to not harm any of the reefs when we visit them, to help ensure the survival of what little there is.