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18 July, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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Coral reefs of Bangladesh are under threat

A sound coral reef acts as a receiver of carbon dioxide gas which is the main culprit of global warming
Al Nahian Avro
Coral reefs of Bangladesh are under threat

Coral reefs are the highly diversified symbiotic ecosystem in the marine-realm, covering 1% of the ocean and providing shelter to almost 25% of marine species. Reef-building corals conjugate to form coral reefs that play a very crucial role in maintaining a good marine environment around them. Most of the corals are so colorful and attractive in shape, thus their pulchritude is enough to charm anyone. They are exclusively found in shallow water and apparently looked like the plant but actually, they are animal as they themselves can’t make their food.

In Bangladesh, corals are grown exclusively in Saint Martin island which is located in the north-east region of the Bay of Bengal. Saint Martin has about 66 species of corals around it. Coral forms a hard shell of calcium carbonate and eventually, it creates a coral rock. If you have ever visited Saint Martin, you might have noticed a lot of rocks on the shore of this island. In fact, those rocks are coral fossils, the ultimate form of dead coral.

A sound coral reef acts as a receiver of carbon dioxide gas which is the main culprit of global warming. The regular metabolic activities of the corals fix carbon dioxide as calcium carbonate which is used for its shell formation and accrual. Thus carbon dioxide gas contributes at a large scale to form the skeleton(made of calcium carbonate) of corals and doesn’t return to the atmosphere.  This process of capturing carbon dioxide goes on until the death of a coral. So coral reefs play a great role to fight against the greenhouse effect which is a burning issue of the present world.

For different coastal areas and islands including Saint Martin of Bangladesh, coral reefs ensure the major protection against the devastating natural disaster emerging from the ocean. The reefs minimize the massive power of waves and reduce coastal erosion, inundation, and damages of coastal belonging on the shore. Protection of coastal region is undoubtedly a salient fact which requires a lot of expense to fabricate water control structure like embankment or levee, but coral reefs act as a natural protector for a long time without any expenses.

Coral reefs are usually regarded as the medicine factory of the ocean, as a number of corals are known as the source of producing life-saving medicine for bacterial infection, cancer, virus related disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and other diseases.

Coral reefs are the habitat as well as feeding and spawning ground for a large number of remarkable marine species. Even many species spend their entire life in coral reefs as they are totally dependent on corals.

So we cannot deny the great importance of coral reefs as they are indispensable to maintain a healthy ecosystem around coral islands as well as bestow us great convenience. But, what is the present situation of corals in the Saint Martin island in Bangladesh where coral reefs are acting as the main barrier of this island as well as the feeding, spawning, breeding, and nursery grounds of many species? Is it in good condition?

It is a matter of misery but true that corals of Saint Martin island are in full of threats. Ocean acidification is a noticeable threat to coral reefs in many regions and corals of Saint Martin are not out of this, but here major threats are human-created. The pollution that produced from water vessel, unplanned construction work and plastic debris of local and tourists has brought a peril for coral reefs.

Direct extraction of coral by the people of this island is the biggest threat to coral reefs. This act of coral extraction declines 24% of the previous coral population of Saint Martin.

The main profession of the people of this island is a fisherman. Their nature of over-exploitation of fish over the coral bed has created an interaction gap between fish and coral, which jeopardizes the ecosystem of this area.

A survey shows that about 67 percent corals of Saint Martin island have been damaged and the rest will be damaged if the human-made threats are not stopped.

As Saint Martin is one of the most attractive tourist spots in Bangladesh, a huge number of tourists visit this island. A huge number of tourists require a huge amount of food and enough residences. The flourishing of residential hotel and restaurant creates a bigger amount of wastes and management of those wastes is not taken in a proper way. Ultimately those wastes go to the coral reefs and cause great harm to their ecosystem and growth.

A threat to the ecosystem is not a banal matter because a single disruption of food chain results in a massive disaster. Sooner or later, Saint Martin will face an extreme catastrophe if we don’t take exigent steps for saving coral reefs from human-created threats. So our Govt. should take essential and effective steps to save this one and the only coral island of Bangladesh as early as possible.

The writer is a contributor to

The Independent

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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