Tropical rain forests and coral reefs are some of the most productive and diverse ecosystems on our planet. Despite the many differences in the two environments, they also share remarkable similarities and they both affect the health of our aquatic world. With incredibly diverse populations of plants and animals, both ecosystems feature complex food webs and demonstrate remarkably efficient systems of recycling nutrients to sustain their populations.
For this reason, the National Aquarium participates in a variety of interrelated activities to preserve, protect, and renew these vital environments.
Rain forests contain a rich variety of animal and plant life, but are some of the most endangered ecosystems on the planet. Healthy rain forests rely on large, unfragmented ecosystems to sustain the valuable diversity of life within. Land clearing for agricultural and logging practices are the biggest threat to rain forest health today.
The National Aquarium helps to save rain forests by working with our partners in Costa Rica to purchase valuable land and to monitor and protect critical areas. Our Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit parking meter has raised more than $440,000 to save rain forests in the Talamanca Region of Costa Rica and promote community-based sustainable development projects.
Coral reefs, like their above-water counterparts, are also home to an impressive diversity of marine species. 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. These fragile habitats are increasingly threatened by growing coastal populations and a variety of human activities.
These fragile environments are dependent upon healthy oceans to survive. The National Aquarium is working to protect corals and coral reefs through a variety of efforts. We have long been a partner in SECORE, a network of public aquaria and coral scientists dedicated to coral reef conservation.
In the Bahamas, we've been working to develop a mooring buoy program that will reduce the damage to reefs by boat anchors. We have also been working with our partners to characterize and monitor the invasive lionfish problem around the islands. Our Marine Conservation Meter funds have gone directly into coral reef conservation efforts in the Bahamas.
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