Invaluable richness

The “reef” biome serves many different functions. Barriers are actually the ideal place for fries (i.e. the young fish before adulthood) to be born and grow, then they will become the population of adult fish that will be fished in the oceans across the world. In developing countries, 20-25% of the catch (approximately 10 million tons a year) live in reefs. In the Pacific area, 90% of people’s protein intake comes from fishing on the reef. In Asia, the lives of one billion people depend on the fish living in the reef. It has been calculated that, if properly managed, just one square kilometre of reef could supply approximately 15 tons of fish and other food every year.
Corals could be useful in other fields as well, for instance medicine. The first studies on corals proved that one half of the new anticancer drugs could be extracted from these marine organisms.
Another important function of corals is the protection of the coasts. The structure of the reef actually mitigates the violence of the tropical waves and hurricanes. Without this protection, the coasts would be damaged, and the fish and prawn farming which is spreading in Tropical countries would be destroyed.
The real wealth of the reef is however bio-diversity. Until today, approximately 4,000 species of fish and 800 species of coral have been classed, and it has been calculated that between 1 and 9 million species of vertebrates and invertebrates live in or somehow benefit from the reef.
The naturalistic value of this ecosystem cannot yet be estimated in economic terms, but researchers are certain that the loss of species, that in the reef has been estimated to reach one million species over the next 40 years, will affect the stability of the ecosystems and therefore man’s life.

Special reports

From the Multimedia section

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    Anemone

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    Coral reef in the world

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    Coral reefs at risk

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    Main coral reef regions in the world

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    Bleaching

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Facts