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The Benefits of Coral Reefs

What benefits do coral reefs provide humans? What about benefits to other species?

One important service that coral reefs provide tropical, coastal areas is to act as a barrier to wave energy. Reefs act as a break point for waves which can reduce coastal erosion and saltwater intrusion. A recent study suggests that healthy reefs are more effective than dead reefs in reducing wave energy. Healthy reefs, with complex structure from branching corals, offer a rougher surface than a dead reef, which is often flatter and smoother. [1] Given the consequences of Acidification and increased Bleaching events due to climate change, coastal areas need more effective Management strategies.


  1. Quataert, E., C. Storlazzi, A. van Rooijen, O. Cheriton, and A. van Dongeren (2015), The influence of coral reefs and climate change on wave-driven flooding of tropical coastlines, Geophys. Res. Lett., 42, 6407–6415, doi:10.1002/2015GL064861.