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Fisheries

Reefs provide habitat for important recreational and subsistence fisheries.

Nassau grouper. Photo © Mary Lou Frost
Nassau grouper. Photo © Mary Lou Frost

Over 500 federally managed fish and invertebrate species depend upon coral reefs and related habitats, including four Endangered Species Act candidate species. Throughout the world fisheries, coral reefs yield many tons of commercial fish catch annually. Reefs also provide important recreational and subsistence fisheries.

Shoreline Protection

Reefs prevent loss of life and property by protecting shorelines.

Shoreline. Photo courtesy South Florida Water Management District
Shoreline. Photo courtesy South Florida Water Management DistrictCoral reefs prevent loss of life and property as well as erosion and flooding by reducing wave action along shorelines. Coral reefs also provide the sediments that eventually become sand on Florida’s beautiful beaches.

Pharmaceuticals

Reefs are considered “medicine cabinets” of the future!

Sponge. Photo courtesy South Florida Water Management District
Sponge. Photo courtesy South Florida Water Management District

Considered “medicine cabinets” of the future, coral reef organisms hold great promise for pharmaceuticals including anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory drugs. Coral skeletons are also utilized as bone substitutes in reconstructive bone surgery.

Tourism

Reefs attract ecotourism and much needed currency for local economies.

SCUBA divers. Photo courtesy OAR/National Undersea Research Program
SCUBA divers. Photo courtesy OAR/National Undersea Research ProgramEco-tourism has developed dramatically during recent years, attracting millions of tourists every year. Many tropical countries rely on tourism to bring much needed foreign currency in order to support local economies.

Education

Reefs are “living laboratories” for scientists and students.

Research biologists. Photo courtesy OAR/National Undersea Research Program
Research biologists. Photo courtesy OAR/National Undersea Research Program

Coral reefs are “living laboratories” where scientists as well as students can study the ecology and impacts on this habitat, relating such information to other environments, including the earth as a whole.


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