Marine researchers deliver blueprint for coral reefs

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An international team of marine ecologists is urging the United States to take immediate action to save its fragile coral reefs. Their message is contained a strongly worded essay titled, “Are U.S. Coral Reefs on the Slippery Slope to Slime?” that appears in the March 18 edition of the journal Science.

“We’re frustrated with how slowly things are moving with coral reef conservation in the United States,” said Fiorenza Micheli, an assistant professor of biological sciences at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station. “Tiny steps are being taken, but they really don’t address the overall problem.”

Micheli and Stanford graduate student Carrie Kappel are among 11 researchers from the United States and Australia who co-authored the Science essay, which focused on America’s two major coral reef systems in Hawaii and Florida.

Florida’s coral reef barrier stretches some 200 miles along the Florida Keys and plays an important role in the state’s economy.

“Annual revenues from reef tourism are $1.6 billion, but the economic future of the Keys is gloomy owing to accelerating ecological degradation,” the authors noted. “Florida’s reefs are well over halfway toward ecological extinction