Report on Decline of US Coral Reefs

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration along with the University of Maryland released a report on health of coral reefs in US Virgin Islands and in Hawaii and Guam in the Pacific.

Key Findings

The study has found that only 2% coral reefs are left alive along the coasts of Florida. This is the first time, a nation-wide coral assessment is being held in the US. The report classified the regions as very good, good, fair, impaired and critical. Most of the coral reefs in the US, according to the report, were fair.

According to the report, lawn chemicals, sewage and other pollutants flowing into the ocean pose catastrophic threat to the corals in the country.

The reefs in Florida were in impaired condition. The corals in Puerto Rico and Hawaii were in good condition.

Significance

The coral reef are natural barriers to storm surges, particularly in regions that are susceptible to hurricanes. Also, they are important to coastal economies that depend on commercial fishing, tourism and marine aquaculture.

The underwater tiny organism polyps form the coral reefs. Their skeletons harden to form fingerlings of underwater rocks called reefs. These coral reefs support aquatic creatures to large extent and are highly important for marine ecosystem.

The coral reefs and their related ecosystem contribute to 3.4 billion USD to the US economy annually. Thus, they are of great importance to the United States.

How do Coral Reefs protect the coasts from storms?

The coral reefs act as a buffer to waves, floods and storms. They protect the shoreline from storms. They prevent the impact of large waves from reaching the shore.

Coral Reef Unit

The Coral Reef Unit acts under the United Nations Environment Programme. It aims to protect the world coral reefs from the effects of climate change and other human activities.

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