CORAL REEFS ARE THE RAINFORESTS OF THE SEA, occupying less than 1% of the ocean floor but supporting nearly 25% of all marine species. A healthy reef is like a bustling city, teeming with fish and turtles, as well as a multitude of invertebrates. Shrimps, crabs, brittlestars and worms, cohabit with slugs, snails and squid. But these marine utopias are disappearing before our very eyes. In the past three decades alone, around 50% of corals have been lost, with the latest forecasts suggesting that over 90% of reefs will be gone by 2050. Some problems are local in scope, such as dynamite fishing, or pollution (e.g. from agricultural fertilisers or sunscreens that wash off peoples’ skin). Other problems are global, such as the threats of ocean acidification and warming.
To find out about the race to save coral reefs, read our feature story here.
Alex Mustard / A vibrant Caribbean coral reef with two Reef sharks (Carcharhinus perezi) and Common sea fans (Gorgonia ventalina) and sea plumes (Pseudopterogorgia sp). Jardines de la Reina, Gardens of the Queen Nat...
Franco Banfi / Cuckoo wrasse (Labrus mixtus) male in front of Red sea fan, (Paramuricea clavata), Stupiste In dive site, Vis Island, Croatia, Adriatic Sea, Mediterranean
Inaki Relanzon / Whitsunday Islands, aerial view, Great Barrier Coral Reef, Queensland, Australia, October 2011.
Jordi Chias / Table coral reef in shallow waters, Gaafu Alifu Atoll, Maldives, Indian Ocean.
Alex Mustard / RF - Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) swimming over a coral reef. Whilst a Predatory bandcheek wrasse (Oxycheilinus digrammus) is hiding underneath the turtle to enable it to sneak closer...
Gary Bell/ Oceanwide / Blue-throat Wrasse (Notolabrus tetricus) female in coral reef, Governor Island Marine Reserve, Bicheno, Tasmania, Australia
Alex Mustard / View of a colony of Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) growing on a coral reef. The growth in this photo represents 12 year's growth since Hurrican Ivan in 2004, which levelled the colony. East End, Gr...