Importance of Coral
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - National Ocean
Coral reefs are some of the most diverse and valuable ecosystems on
Earth. Coral reefs support more species per unit area than any other
marine environment, including about 4,000 species of fish, 800
species of hard corals and hundreds of other species. Scientists
estimate that there may be another 1 to 8 million undiscovered
species of organisms living in and around reefs (Reaka-Kudla, 1997).
This biodiversity is considered key to finding new medicines for the
21st century. Many drugs are now being developed from coral reef
animals and plants as possible cures for cancer, arthritis, human
bacterial infections, viruses, and other diseases.
Coral reefs buffer adjacent shorelines from wave action and prevent
erosion, property damage and loss of life. Reefs also protect the
highly productive wetlands along the coast, as well as ports and
harbors and the economies they support. Globally, half a billion
people are estimated to live within 100 kilometers of a coral reef
and benefit from its production and protection.
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