Last week the U.S. House of Representatives advanced an important ocean-related conservation measure called the Coral Reef Conservation Act Reauthorization and Enhancement Amendments of 2009 (H.R. 860). The amendments will bolster America’s coral reef conservation efforts by promoting international cooperation to protect coral reefs and codifying the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force.
You probably know corals for their beauty! But do you know why they are so important? Coral reefs are integral components of tropical and subtropical marine ecosystems. They protect shorelines from incoming storms, provide habitat for innumerable species of fish and invertebrates, and generate important tourism revenues for many coastal countries. But like many ocean habitats, they are becoming increasingly threatened by growing coastal populations and a variety of human activities. Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU) introduced the bill, and stated that “coral reefs are truly the ‘rainforests of the sea.’ That statement couldn’t be more true.
The National Aquarium is involved in coral reef conservation project called SECORE, a unique initiative that is addressing coral conservation issues by bringing together public aquariums and zoos and marine scientists to share knowledge and practical skills in coral husbandry and coral research. The National Aquarium’s DC venue has been a key partner in the SECORE project for 4 years. In 2008, staffers ventured out on a research and collection trip, and they are currently propagating coral polyps at the facility.
You can see wonderful coral exhibits at the National Aquarium’s DC venue. And if you believe in this issue, please write your elected officials and urge them to support this crucial bill that will help preserve our rainforests of the sea. Click here for more information.