Coral reefs of Costa Rica in danger

Coral reefs of Costa Rica in danger

Although 970 square kilometers of the coast is covered by coral reefs, Costa Rica has no laws to protect them.

Herefore, these ecosystems are seriously threatened by the action of chemicals from rivers, irresponsible tourism, overfishing and the impacts of climate change.

Awesome Fishes

For these and other reasons, 97% of the coral reefs in Costa Rica show severe damages. The destruction has occurred gradually, although the reefs generate $ 582 million in the country, through the services they provide to the environment. They act namely, among other things, as a cot for high-value species for the fishing industry, as a natural barrier against storms and have large potential for tourism and research.

Corals are among the most beautiful manifestations on the Blue Planet. They also enjoy the designation „tropical rainforest of the sea“. Rightly so. Because they harbor a high diversity of species. This is extremely valuable for the entire ocean and for local populations. However, coral mortality is progressing at a rapid rate. Anthropogenic activities are mostly to blame. Therefore, the question is: How can coral mortality be stopped?

Coral definition with simple explanation

Everyone thinks they know what corals are. But when asked a precise question about coral definition, a majority gets stuck. What are corals? Plants? Animals? Special creatures? For several centuries, researchers have been studying these strange organisms that bear a strong visual resemblance to small flowering trees. Their home are the rocks of the seabed.

The coral definition states that these organisms are not plants, but small animals – in precise terms: polyps. These are miniature cucumbers, but they prove that small things become large colonies. For corals form huge colonies. Together they are strong, because they consist of a coherent skeleton. In some species, this even acts as the base of an entire coral reef.

Corals are found exclusively in the sea. Especially in tropical regions they feel most comfortable. Because corals belong to the sessile marine animals, they are counted among the filter feeders. Aha. And what kind of food do corals eat? Nutrients, trace elements and microplankton are part of the diet that corals consume. And how do they absorb them? Quite simply, by filtering them out of the seawater. Coral species that reside on the water surface also feed on algae. They not only feed on them, but live in symbiosis with them.

Why are coral reefs important?

Because they act as refuges, food reserves and as nurseries for numerous inhabitants. Smallest algae, numerous fish species as well as sea turtles, sharks and invertebrates retreat in the coral reefs. For the environment, corals provide an underestimated value and multiple benefits. This is because, along with tropical rainforests, they are among the most biodiverse and productive ecosystems. Not only are they a perfect habitat for numerous plant and animal species, but they are also responsible for reef formation.

The polyps of the corals secrete a high amount of lime. Why is this process important? Because it causes them to build a framework known as corals. However, corals take several hundred years to grow into the well-known flower of the oceans.

Coral reefs serve as protection. Who do they protect? The sea coasts from soil erosion and storms. They also provide numerous jobs for the local population. In addition, coral reefs function as recreational areas. They also provide an indispensable source of food as well as medicines. It is not known, but if more people knew how many people depend on coral reefs, they would make greater efforts to protect them. How many people depend on coral? More than half a billion people use the reefs for income and food. For them, coral reefs also act as a shelter.

Diving. Snorkeling. Fishing. Several hundred million dollars are generated by local populations thanks to coral reefs. The economy estimates the net value of the reefs at ten billion dollars – annually. This is why coral reefs – especially for indigenous peoples – are essential for survival.


This is why coral destruction poses an underestimated threat to the economy, environment and social welfare.

Coral reefs should be protected

While international agreements such as a Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, CITES and the Convention on Biological Diversity were signed, according to Haydee Rodriguez of the Inter-American Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA),a specific legal instrument is missing. AIDA, the Conservation International (CI) and the Deputy Minister of Water and Oceans, of the Ministry of Environment (Minae) – worked out a decree to fill this gap in the legislation. Rodriguez says about the decree, that it could be very focused on a zone classification to distinguish areas of coral from other areas.

Coral Reefs Costa Rica
There are many „Turtle Protection Projects“ in Costa Rica

In addition to the decree, the Fisheries Act and the Environmental Protection Act will be reformed to establish penalties for damages to these valuable ecosystems. If they want to do in Costa Rica holidays, and may want to visit a turtle environmental project we recommend the Hotel Lodge Costa Rica Samara  beach Buena Vista.


Zurück zur Startseite Costa Rica Reisetipps.