In order to drive home the message that the world’s valuable and beautiful coral reefs are under increasing threat from activities such as dynamite fishing, pollution and climate change, “Ocean Wonderland 3D” was produced. This visually stunning new movie was produced in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Coral Reef Unit. UNEP’s Executive Director, Klaus Toepfer, attended the world premiere launch in Boston.
“All over the world, coral reefs are under assault,” said Mr. Toepfer. “They are rapidly being degraded by human activities. They are over-fished, bombed and poisoned. They are smothered by sediment, and choked by algae growing on nutrient rich sewage and fertilizer run-off. They are damaged by irresponsible tourism and are being severely stressed by the warming of the world’s oceans. Each of these pressures is bad enough in itself, but together, the cocktail is proving lethal.”
“Today there is a new urgency to protect and conserve these important, valuable and seductively beautiful habitats,” Mr. Toepfer continued. “I am therefore delighted that Ocean Wonderland 3D has been made. Such an outstanding film can only serve to raise awareness further about the moral, economic and environmental imperatives for saving the world’s coral reefs. We must ensure that this unique ecosystem continues to feed, protect and dazzle us and our descendants, for generations to come.”
The film shows the immense diversity of the marine life on the reefs (shot in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and in the Bahamas) and the amazing beauty of the many varieties of coral living there. It also illustrates the dangers threatening and destroying the world’s coral reefs. The message is clear: if these threats are not eliminated today then our children may never see the amazing beauty of coral reefs, except perhaps in books or museums.
Rainforests of the oceans
Even though they occupy less than one tenth of one percent of the world’s oceans, coral reefs are vital for fisheries, coastal protection, tourism and wildlife.
Often referred to as the “rainforests of the oceans”, coral reefs host an extraordinary variety of marine plants and animals (perhaps up to 2 million) including one quarter of all marine fish species. It has been estimated that only about 10 per cent of these species have been described by scientists.
Coral reefs offer countless benefits to humans, including supplying compounds for medicines. AZT, a treatment for people with HIV infections is based on chemicals extracted from a Caribbean reef sponge and more than half of all new cancer drug research focuses on marine organisms.
Coral reefs are also an important source of food for hundreds of millions of people. They also provide income and employment through tourism, and marine recreation, and export fisheries, and for many coastal villages, and some entire nations are the only source of this income and employment.
Source: This is an excerpt from UNEP’s press release (11 February 2003).