There are many ways that pollution can damage reefs. Debris like this plastic bag can quickly become entangled on a coral and smother it.
Controlling the crown-of-thorns: How American Samoa is fighting an outbreak of a destructive coral-eating predator.
NOAA's National Ocean Service
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Revised: April 09, 2015 | You are here: http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/tutorial_corals/media/supp_coral09b.html