THE RAINFORESTS OF THE SEA ARE DYING
ArtTour International Magazine|Spring 2020
The world's coral reefs, one of the ocean's most beautiful marine habitats, is in danger of extinction because of dramatic increases in coral diseases caused by climate change and warmer waters.
Viviana Puello
These once-vibrant reefs are unlike any other reef systems in the world, but current threats could render all or most of them damaged forever in as little as 20 years.

A new scientific study of Caribbean marine life has demonstrated that coral species are dying off, indicating dramatic shifts in the ecological balance under the sea. The study found that ten percent of the Caribbean's reef-building corals were under threat, including staghorn and elkhorn corals. These two prominent species are now candidates to be listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Sometimes referred to as rainforests of the sea, shallow coral reefs occupy less than 0.1% of the world's ocean area. Yet, they are home for at least 25% of all marine species, including mollusks, fish, crustaceans, echinoderms, sponges, tunicates, and other cnidarians.

Every square meter of the sun-drenched reef system is home to hundreds of microscopic wildlife – all of which help keep the reef balanced and healthy. Coral reefs thrive in ocean waters that provide few nutrients and are commonly found at shallow depths in tropical waters, but deep water and cold water coral reefs exist on smaller scales in other areas. The Caribbean reefs stretch from the coast of Florida to the Lesser Antilles, and each year they draw millions of visitors from all over the world. If they disappear, so will many other species that rely on reefs for shelter, reproduction, and provision.

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