A major comprehensive survey of coral reefs in the Caribbean reveals over the last 50 years as much as 80% of Caribbean coral has been lost in recent years. Scientists state that this is due to overfishing, coastal development and pollution. The reefs are also now threatened by invasive species, global warming and the early effects of ocean acidification.
The Caribbean is the world’s biggest and most important reserves of coral. Coral reefs provide a vital home for marine creatures, acting as a nursery for fish and a food resource for higher food chain predators such as sharks and whales. Loss of reefs is also a serious economic problem in the region, where large populations depend on fishing and tourism.
Globally, coral reefs are under threat. The future of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is in doubt as mining and energy companies want to forge a shipping lane through it to form a more direct link with their export markets.
The team of scientists working on the survey would also probe the underlying reasons for such degradation, with a view to informing conservation efforts.