Contact Us Blog Shop

ScienceDaily (Oct. 3, 2012) — Coral reefs — ecosystems of incredible environmental and economic value — are showing evidence of significant degradation, but do not have to be doomed. We can make a difference.

From Left to Right: back row – Richard E. Dodge, Ph.D.; dean of Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanographic Center and executive director of NSU’s National Coral Reef Institute; Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore; and NSU President George L. Hanbury II, Ph.D.. Front row – NSU Oceanographic Center graduate students demonstrate how NSU’s onshore coral reef nurseries work (Credit: Nova Southeastern University)

Once plentiful, coral reefs worldwide and locally have been ravaged by a number of stresses, including global threats like rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification, and local threats like pollution, overfishing and coastal development. An estimated 25-30 percent of the world’s coral reefs are already severely degraded or lost, and another very high percentage are in danger of greater impact or worse. Some even predict reefs could be essentially wiped out within a human generation unless action is taken.

The coral reef issue is not only an environmental problem, but an economic one. The United Nations estimates globally, coral reefs generate over $172 billion per year from the services they provide including tourism, recreation and fisheries. In South Florida alone, where 84 percent of the nation’s reefs are located, reef ecosystems have been shown to generate over $6 billion in annual economic contributions and more than 71,000 jobs.

In July, hundreds of scientists joined in a consensus statement written at the recently held 12th International Coral Reef Symposium in Cairns Australia, stating: “Across the globe, these problems cause a loss of reef resources of enormous economic and cultural value. A concerted effort to preserve reefs for the future demands action at global levels, but also will benefit hugely from continued local protection.”

Read more