From heightened ocean acidity to the disappearance of mangroves and other coastal ecosystems essential to protecting the plant and animal life residing near the coastline, the effects of coral reef destruction on the environment can be extremely diverse. Virtually everything from the lowering quality of ocean water to the stronger waves and currents damaging landmasses are a result of diminishing coral populations and the increased fragility of coral reef formations.
One of the main detrimental effects of coral reef destruction on the environment has to do with the gradual disappearance of barrier reefs. The recent bleaching events associated with the Great Barrier Reef has attracted attention to the impact that the disappearance of these types of reefs can have on coastal ecosystems. Barrier reefs form a protective barrier that can prevent strong currents and ocean waves from damaging coastal ecosystems such as mangroves and beach systems. As a result, along with their disappearance, all the beautiful beaches, bays and lagoons that benefit from their protection will also be destroyed over time, along with the millions of diverse marine creatures that they house.
The importance of biodiversity is staggering. It ensures the resilience of life, making sure that some species will survive even under the most dire of circumstances. Also, specifically in the case of coral reef ecosystems, biodiversity has a strong impact on protecting and supporting coastal ecosystems. Coral reefs, along with the species of marine animals that they support and protect, also support a balance between oceanic and coastal ecosystems. One of the worst effects of coral reef destruction on the environment is the disappearance of this balance, which can lead to extremely negative effects ranging from barren landscapes and strong storm sweeping through landmasses, to acidic and poisonous ocean water that can also lead to the formation of dangerous giant waves, acid rain and the worsening of climate change conditions.
Many of the organisms that are supported by coral reefs are filter feeders. This means that they filter the water they live in and eliminate unneeded particles to keep waters clean. Detrivores do pretty much the same thing often at a smaller scale, and they are also in charge of eliminating dead matter from the seabed. These activities will no longer be possible if coral reefs disappear. All the animals that support cleaning up the ocean will disappear along with them, and the ocean water will become an extremely inhospitable place over time.