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Coral reefs are home to a quarter of all marine life in the ocean and are the most diverse marine ecosystem on earth.
Millions of people around the world also depend on fisheries, tourism and coastal protection provided by healthy coral reefs - yet they are one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet.
Coral reefs are incredibly sensitive, so much so that just a one degree change in ocean temperature can cause detrimental effects on all coral reefs in the sea.
The impact of the ongoing climate change is directly affecting coral reefs by an already measurable rise of sea water temperature, caused predominantly by human activity.
Not only are corals an integral part of marine ecosystems, they also act as a natural filtration for ocean - contributing to the ocean carbon cycle through photosynthesis, respiration, calcification and dissolution. These processes recycle their nutrients efficiently and sequester huge amounts of carbon from dissolved carbon dioxide as carbonate - so that carbon stays within in the reef system and out of the ocean and atmosphere.
But that's not all. Coral reefs provide countless benefits to our Ocean Planet, supporting over half a billion people with food, income, and protection.
WHY WE MUST ACT NOW
A Deadly Decline
Regardless of the contribution coral reefs make toward mitigating climate change, over 50 percent of the world's coral reefs have died in the last 30 years, and up to 90 percent may die within the next century if immediate action is not taken
Some threats to coral reefs around the world are natural, such as diseases, predators, and storms.
However, other threats are caused by human activity, including increased runoff and pollution, sedimentation, destructive fishing practices, tourism, and increased ocean temperature due to climate change.
Many of these threats can stress corals, leading to degredation, coral bleaching, and wide spread mortality of these delicate ecosystems.