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STOP #20

Florida Keys, FL — Coral Reefs Impacted by Global Warming

January 18, 2006

One of the most immediate and startling effects of global warming can be seen in the Coral Reefs off the Florida Keys. Unusually warm sea surface temperatures are causing algae to leave the coral. Without the algae the coral loses its color and becomes susceptible to disease. The effect is known as Coral Bleaching and it is widespread off the Florida coast and throughout the Caribbean.

One of the immediate benefits we reap from our Coral Reefs is the money generated through tourism. It's estimated that in the Florida Keys alone the reefs account for more than $1 billion a year in revenue. But reefs serve far more important functions. They protect coastlines from erosion, flooding and storm damage.

Coral reefs are home to hundreds of thousands of species of marine life. Without their natural habitats, these species would most likely disappear, upsetting the delicate biodiversity of the oceans and depleting the fishing stocks. In the past year there has been an unprecedented number of bleaching events worldwide.