By Shilpi Gemawat, www.indiasendangered.com
Coral reefs form one of the most delicate and valuable ecosystems along the coastlines of the world. Even though they cover less than 1% of the ocean floor, they provide habitat for close to 2 million species. Known as ‘the rainforests of the ocean’, owing to their rich and diverse biodiversity, now a recent study suggests that Coral reefs reduce wave energies by 97 percent which would otherwise have a harsh impact on the coastlines affecting lives of hundreds and thousands of people living in the area.
The findings were the results of studies by an international team of researchers from The University of Bologna, The Nature Conservancy, U. S. Geological Survey, Stanford University and University of California, Santa Cruz.
The researchers also added that restoring and saving these natural barriers was a better way to safeguard lives of millions of people living near coastlines than building artificial barriers to protect them from harsh oceanic natural hazards like Tsunami and storms.
Here are the important findings,
Coral reefs have the ability to reduce the impact of waves on coastlines and can also adapt to sea level rise which are comparable to those provided by artificial coastline defences.
The ocean waves break first at the shallowest part of the Coral reef called the reef crest. This dispels 86 percent of wave energy.
A Coral reef restoration project would cost only USD 1290 per meter as compared to the median cost for building artificial breakwaters which is USD 17,791 per meter.
All around the world, about 197 million people inhabit towns, villages and cities in coastal areas below 10 meter elevation and within 50 Kilometres of Coral reefs which makes them prone to risks. If the coral reefs are degraded in these areas, it will have a severe impact on their lives.