Although tourism of coral reefs provide a very large income, it is having a severe impact on the survival of the reef systems.
Boats used to take tourists diving and snorkelling are anchored near the reefs and can cause serious physical damage to the structures of the reef. Due to tourism of corals becoming so popular, it has lead to uncontrolled tourism activity, allowing people without the right knowledge and understanding of reef communities to dive and snorkel in the reef area and cause significant damage (Hawkins and Roberts, 1994).
Due to the lack of knowledge that many divers and tourists have, tons of polyps in the coral structure are dying due to being crushed by humans (Copman, 2009). Humans are unintentionally crushing these polyps as they cannot distinguish between a coral reef and a rock structure. Figure 11 shows a diver about to touch a coral reef, this is potentially very damaging to the reef structure.
Furthermore, organisms in a coral reef may be overexploited as they may be heavily harvested to be sold for souvenirs in the curio trade or to be taken to aquariums around the world (Cesar, 1996).
Due to the complex ecosystem that is formed in the reef, it is hard to identify a sustainable level to harvest organisms (Sorokin, 1993). This could cause a significant decline in the species abundance and affect the entire dynamics within the reef.