Coral reefs at risk

Associated Press
In this May 30, 2012 photo released by the Puntacana Ecological Foundation, healthy coral protect a school of fish in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. In the Dominican Republic, in the thriving tourist town of Punta Cana, the Puntacana CQ Ecological Foundation has planted some 1,200 fragments of Acropora coral, a genus which includes staghorn and elkhorn. Advocates say the reef restoration work, focused on the region’s fast-growing but threatened staghorn and elkhorn coral species, can boost rates of recovery and improve the outlook for coral. (AP Photo/Puntacana Ecological Foundation, Victor Manuel Galvan)

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Across the globe, reefs that have proven resilient for thousands of years are in serious decline, degraded by over fishing, pollution, coastal development and warming ocean waters. And threats to coral are only expected to intensify as a result of climate change and ocean acidification due to greenhouse gases. Scientists predict that coral is headed for extinction, possibly within this century.

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