Covering less than 1% of the Earth’s surface, coral reef ecosystems provide shelter, feeding areas and nurseries to support roughly 25% of all marine fish species. Beyond housing some of nature’s most colorfully abundant species that support a vibrant tourism economy, coral reefs are home to species that offer pharmaceuticals to treat illness and disease. Given that bioprospecting is relatively new for marine life, the full potential of treatments from these ecosystems has yet to be realized. Additionally, coral reefs play a key role in protecting coastal land and beaches by minimizing shoreline erosion. Their structures act as natural breakwaters to help minimize the impact of waves and inclement weather phenomenon.
Unfortunately, corals are dying at an extremely fast rate. Some scientists estimate that we have lost nearly 30% of the world’s coral reefs with 90% of the remaining reefs threatened to disappear by 2030. According to The National Oceanic and