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Coral reefs are arguably the worlds most beautiful habitats Coral reefs have been called the rainforests of the oceans because of the rich diversity of life they support Scientists have not yet finished counting the thousands of different species of plants and animals that use or live in the coral reef Coral reefs are the largest biological structures on the planet with the largest being the Great Barrier Reef covering over 2000 kilometers along the east coast of Australia Aldridge 1995 The Great Barrier Reef is said to be 500000 to 2500000 years old and is said to be visible from the moon Goreau 1987 There is only one problem with this beautiful structure and that is the carelessness of man Many of the coral reefs of the world will continue to disappear due to stress from human activities such as cyanide and dynamite fishing and pollution from untreated wastewater and agricultural runoff as well as those related to climate change unless immediate action is taken The importance of saving coral reefs is a powerful reason to protect them from becoming extinct The significant importance of the coral reefs include providing shelter for millions of animal and plant species protecting beaches from waves and erosion and providing life saving medicine Coral reefs must be protected in order to provide food and shelter to more than a million species of ocean life About 25 percent of all saltwater species depend on reefs to survive states McCormack 2002 p 4 Nearly one-third of the Earths fish species live in or along these multi-towered biological marvels which cover about 160000 square miles in tropical and subtropical regions Russell 1998 At any moment crabs starfish and snails share reef space with eels seahorses and schools of colorful fish while mussels octopus and giant clams cling to the reefs branches Commercial fisheries produce a tenth of the worlds fish catching because reefs are important feeding and breeding grounds It is
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