Alex Kirby writes in bbcnews.com that Caribbean coral reefs have declined 80% in the last 30 years. All the coral seems to have been struck at about the same time. Some causes for the destruction are hurricanes and disease, overfishing and pollution. While coral is beginning to grow back, it's not the same kind as the coral that's been lost.
Most of the loss took place during the 1980s, but the rate is only slowing down because there?s not much coral left to lose. Researcher Isabelle Cote says, "The good news is that there are some areas in the Caribbean that appear to be recovering. The bad news, however, is that the new coral communities seem to be different from the old ones. We don't know how well these new ones will be able to face the challenges of rising sea levels and temperatures that result from global warming."
Coral affects the lives of fish and small sea creatures, but scientists aren't sure how it affects the ocean food chain as a whole. It looks like we're going to find out.
A world without coral, a world without rainforests?we're going to have a mighty strange future.
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