Coral reefs at risk

Associated Press
In this Oct. 18, 2011 released by the Puntacana Ecological Foundation, a healthy coral grows in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.  The tropical islands' reefs protect fragile coastlines by absorbing energy from waves during hurricanes and normal conditions.  In the face of decline of coral reefs, some coral specialists and conservationists say passive inaction would be a grave mistake.  (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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