Why are coral reefs important?
- Coral reefs provide shelter for nearly one quarter of all known marine species.
- The variety of species living on coral reefs is greater than almost anywhere else in the world.
- The reefs are home to more than 4,000 species of fish, 700 species of coral, and thousands of other plant and animal life.
- In places like the Caribbean, a key component of the economy is tourism, which depends heavily on healthy coral reef communities.
How do coral reefs benefit us?
- Corals provide food and jobs, with more than 500 million people dependent on reefs for their primary source of protein.
- By one estimate, coral reefs provide economic goods and ecosystem services worth about $375 billion each year to millions of people
- Several important drugs have already been developed from chemicals found in coral reef organisms
- Unique compounds from coral reefs have yielded treatments for cardiovascular diseases, ulcers, leukemia, and skin cancer.
- They help provide protection by buffering wave energy - a natural barrier protecting coastal cities, communities and beaches.
"Reef structures provide benefits such as being fishery habitats for seafood, they are used for recreational diving adventures, and often provide a natural barrier to storm surge," said Professor Peter Mumby from UQ's School of Biological Science.