Coral Reef Degradation

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Coral reefs are one of the most diverse and valuable ecosystems on earth. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, coral reefs support more species per unit area than any other marine environment, making them the equivalent of an aquatic rain forest (Kitch and Edwards). Occupying a mere one percent of the seafaring environment, coral reefs are home to more than one quarter of all known marine species. This translates to approximately four thousand species of fish, eight-hundred species of hard corals. and hundreds of other unclassified marine organisms (Fast Facts). According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, scientists estimate that as of today, there are approximately one to eight million undiscovered …show more content…
Because the major composition of coral is limestone, a hard sedimentary rock composed mainly of calcium carbonate or dolomite, a more acidic ocean results in the physical degradation of reef structures (Coral Reefs). Research results suggest that by the end of this century, coral reefs will erode faster than they can be rebuilt from environmental disturbances. This will compromise the long-term viability of these precious ecosystems and will likely impact the estimated one million species that depend on coral reef habitats—human’s included (Morelle).
Outside of their inherent value from the biodiversity they harbor, coral reefs serve as a physical barrier again wave erosion. The presence of coral reefs acts as a buffer to protect and preserve shorelines from tidal damage and storm surges. Additionally, reefs provide spawning, nursery, refuge and feeding areas for a large variety of organisms. Their presence alone can yield an average of fifteen tons of fish and other seafood per square kilometer annually (Fast Facts). Moreover, reefs generate billions of dollars in tourism and represent a staple food source for many people across the

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