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Reefs occupy just 1% of the world’s marine environment, but they provide a home to a quarter of marine species—including a unique set of fish, turtles and algae. Many of these species could be lost permanently, but with temperatures only expected to rise in the coming decades chances are slim that reefs will be able to rebuild from scratch.

“You can’t grow back a 500-year old coral in 15 years,” says Eakin. “In many cases, it’s like you’ve killed the giant redwoods.”