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Coral Reefs

Rainforests of the Sea

Hidden beneath the ocean waters, coral reefs teem with life. Coral reefs support more species than any other marine environment and rival rainforests in their biodiversity. Countless numbers of creatures rely on coral reefs for their survival. These important habitats are threatened by a range of human activities. Many of the world’s reefs have already been destroyed or severely damaged by an increasing array of threats, including pollution, unsustainable fishing practices, and global climate change. However, we can still protect and preserve our remaining reefs if we act now. NOAA is leading U.S. efforts to study and conserve these precious resources for future generations.

Screenshot of CoRIS site
Coral Reef Information System

CoRIS is an information portal that provides access to NOAA coral reef information and data products with emphasis on the U.S. states, territories and remote island areas. NOAA coral reef activities include coral reef mapping, monitoring and assessment; natural and socioeconomic research and modeling; outreach and education; and management and stewardship.

derelict net on coral reef
Infographic: How climate affects corals

Climate change is the greatest global threat to coral reef ecosystems. Scientific evidence now clearly indicates that the Earth's atmosphere and ocean are warming, and that these changes are primarily due to greenhouse gases derived from human activities. As temperatures rise, mass coral bleaching events and infectious disease outbreaks are becoming more frequent.