What can I do to protect coral reefs?

Even if you live far from coral reefs, you can have an impact on reef health and conservation.

Things you can do to protect coral reefs infographic.

Coral reefs play a vital role in sustaining the health of our oceans and our economy. NOAA is working to increase understanding of the causes of reef decline. | Infographic Transcript

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(Spanish translation courtesy of the Caribbean Fishery Management Council)

Here are some things YOU can do:

  • Corals are already a gift, don't give them as presents.
  • Conserve water. The less water you use, the less runoff and wastewater that will eventually find its way back into the ocean.
  • Volunteer in local beach or reef cleanups. If you don't live near the coast, get involved in protecting your watershed.
  • Become an informed consumer and learn how your daily choices such as water use, recycling, seafood, vacation spots, fertilizer use, and driving times can positively (or negatively) impact the health of coral reefs.

There are also many things you can do to ensure that you are environmentally conscious when you visit coral reefs or coastal areas. These include things such as hiring local guides to support the economy, removing all trash from an area, never touching or harassing wildlife in reef areas, and avoiding dropping your boat anchor or chain nearby a coral reef.

Finally, stay informed and spread the word! Educate yourself about why healthy coral reefs are valuable to the people, fish, plants, and animals that depend on them. Your excitement will help others get involved.

Infographic Text

10 ways to protect CORAL REEFS

  • Choose sustainable seafood. Learn how to make smart seafood choices at www.fishwatch.gov.
  • Conserve Water. The less water you use, the less runoff and wastewater that eventually find their ways back into the ocean.
  • Volunteer. Volunteer in local beach or reef cleanups. If you don't live near the coast, get involved in protecting your watershed.
  • Corals are already a gift. Don't give them as presents. It takes corals decades or longer to create reef structures, so leave them on the reef.
  • Long-lasting light bulbs are a bright idea. Energy efficient light bulbs reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change is one of the leading threats to coral reef survival.
  • If you dive, don't touch. Coral reefs are alive. Stirred-up sediment can smother corals.
  • Check sunscreen active ingredients. Seek shade between 10 am & 2 pm, use Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) sunwear, and choose sunscreens with chemicals that don’t harm marine life. For more information, visit oceanservice.noaa.gov/sunscreen
  • Be a marine crusader. In addition to picking up your own trash, carry away the trash that others have left behind.
  • Don't send chemicals into our waterways. Nutrients from excess fertilizer increases algae growth that blocks sunlight to corals.
  • Practice safe boating. Anchor in sandy areas away from coral and sea grasses so that the anchor and chain do not drag on nearby corals.