1. Corals remove and recycle carbon dioxide. Excessive amounts of this gas contribute to global warming.
2. Reefs shelter land from harsh ocean storms and floods.
3. Reefs provide resources for fisheries. Food items include fishes, crustaceans, and molluscs.
4. Coral reefs attract millions of tourists every year.
5. The coral reef is an intricate ecosystem and contains a diverse collection of organisms. Without the reef, these organisms would die.
6. Some evidence suggests that the coral reef could potentially provide important medicines, including anti-cancer drugs and a compound that blocks ultraviolet rays.
7. Coral skeletons are being used as bone substitutes in reconstructive bone surgery. The pores and channels in certain corals resemble those found in human bone. Bone tissue and blood vessels gradually spread into the coral graft. Eventually, bone replaces most of the coral implant.
8. The coral reef provides a living laboratory. Both students and scientists can study the interrelationships of organisms and their environment.
1. Corals should not be collected, either alive or dead. The United States federal government has prohibited the removal or destruction of corals from all areas of the continental shelf within a three-mile limit.
2. In waters off Florida, collection of dead coral is regulated by the Florida Marine Fisheries Commission. This Commission is working to phase out dead coral collecting by 1994.
3. Hawaii, Guam, and Puerto Rico have banned the collection of all hard corals, both living and dead.
4. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) regulates international trade of certain animals and plants. More specifically, the Convention regulates the import, export, re-export, and introduction from the sea of certain plants and animals. Species for which CITES controls trade are included in one of three appendices. These appendices classify animals in terms of their vulnerability. Many corals are classified by CITES as Appendix II species. These species are not necessarily threatened with extinction but may become so unless their trade is strictly controlled. Appendix II includes the following corals:
a. All corals in the order Coenothecalia (Indo- Pacific blue coral).
b. All corals in the family Tubiporidae of the order Stolonifera (organ-pipe coral).
c. All corals in the order Scleractinia (reef- building corals).
d. All corals in the order Antipatharia (black corals).
SeaWorld/Busch Gardens Animal Information Database
www.seaworld.org / www.buschgardens.org
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