Thursday, 10 July 2008

Coral reef inhabitants face extinction

Some of the most diverse animals on the planet may soon disappear. Coral reefs and their inhabitants are being destroyed at an alarming rate, as rare ocean wildlife is already being harmed and fish supplies are dwindling.

A third of the world's reef-building coral species are facing extinction.

That is the stark conclusion from the first global study to assess the extinction risks of corals.

Writing in the journal Science, researchers say climate change, coastal development, overfishing, and pollution are the major threats.

The economic value of the world's reefs has been estimated at over $30bn (£15bn) per year, through tourism, fisheries and coastal protection.

"The picture is frightening," said Alex Rogers from the Zoological Society of London, one of 39 scientists involved in the assessment.

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