Coral reefs aren’t just beautiful - they're essential. Coral reefs protect coastlines from erosion by acting as a natural buffer against waves, storms, and floods. They are also the foundation of the most biologically dense areas of the ocean, supporting more than a quarter of all marine life. But human activity has put these reefs in jeopardy; one-third of them face extinction.
The destruction of coral reefs wreaks havoc on entire ecosystems. Overfishing, pollution, and coastal development are suffocating reefs with layers of sediment and trash. Climate change is warming and acidifying oceans, causing coral to expel the symbiotic algae they need to survive and the reefs to lose their color (this is called bleaching) and become more susceptible to disease and death.
But the impact of reef decline isn’t just felt below the surface. Historically, coral reefs have been a major source of protein-rich food for people: nearly 25% of the fish caught in developing countries come from these reef areas.
To date, one-fifth of the world’s coral reefs have already been lost. Scientists warn that with the current rates of greenhouse gas emission, which are expected to double in 50 years, we risk losing all reefs permanently, perhaps even within the century.
Coral reefs are the largest living organisms on the planet.
1/5 of the world’s reefs have been lost. The remaining ones could disappear by 2050.
More than 80% of the world's shallow reefs are severely overfished.
500 million people live within 60 miles of a coral reef.
Scientists estimate 50% of the reefs in the Florida Keys and up to 90% of the reefs in the U.S. Virgin Islands were lost in 2005 after weeks of elevated water temperatures.