Barbados is the most easterly island in the Eastern Caribbean. The reefs around Barbados cover 90 sq km. The west and south coast have an almost continuous bank reef, while corals on the northeast and southeast coast are in the best condition with high diversity but low coral cover.
The Reefs at Risk analysis suggests that all the reefs around Barbados are threatened by human activities. All the reefs were rated as threatened by overfishing and coastal development. All targeted reef fish species have been over-fished, particularly parrot fishes (algal grazers), which are caught on lines and traps and speared by divers. Barbados is densely populated and has experienced a rapid increase in coastal development and tourism, with a consequent degradation of the marine environment. The analysis showed 60 percent of the reefs to be threatened by sedimentation. Eutrophication from agricultural fertilizers and sewage is one of the biggest problems. Marine based pollution threatens 15 percent of the reefs.
As a result of natural disturbances, between 65 and 90 percent of corals were bleached in 1998, but the west and south coast bank reef is showing signs of recover.
The direct way in which humans destroy coral reefs is by physically killing them. All over the world, but especially in the Philippines, divers catch the fish that live in and around coral reefs. They sell these fish to fancy restaurants in Asia and to fancy pet stores in the United States. This would be OK if the divers caught the fish carefully with nets and didn't hurt the reefs or take too many fish. But the divers want lots of fish and most of them are not very well trained at fish catching. Often they blow up a coral reef with explosives (picture below) and then catch all the stunned fish swimming around. This completely destroys the reefs, killing the coral polyps that make it as well as many of the plants and animals that call it home. And the creatures that do survive are left homeless....