Reefs provide habitat and nursery areas for many organisms. Coral reefs are important
habitat and nursery grounds for fishes and invertebrates, including those of commercial and
recreational value. They are closely associated with mangrove and seagrass communities,
providing protection from wave and storm damage. Disturbances to reefs may result in
upsetting the ecological balance of the reef as well as having indirect impacts on other nearby
Coral reefs are important for:
- Shoreline Protection
Reefs provide habitat for important recreational and subsistence fisheries
Over 500 federally managed fish and invertebrate species depend upon coral reefs and
related habitats, including four Endangered Species Act candidate species. Throughout the
world fisheries, coral reefs yield many tons of commercial fish catch annually. Reefs also
provide important recreational and subsistence fisheries.
Reefs prevent loss of life and property by protecting shorelines.
Coral reefs prevent loss of life and property as well as erosion and flooding by reducing wave
action along shorelines. Coral reefs also provide the sediments that eventually become sand
on Florida's beautiful beaches.
·Reefs are considered "medicine cabinets" of the future! Considered "medicine cabinets" of
the future, coral reef organisms hold great promise for pharmaceuticals including anti-cancer
and anti-inflammatory drugs. Coral skeletons are also utilized as bone substitutes in
reconstructive bone surgery.
Reefs attract ecotourism and much needed currency for local economies.
Eco-tourism has developed dramatically during recent years, attracting millions of tourists
every year. Many tropical countries rely on tourism to bring much needed foreign currency in
order to support local economies.
Reefs are "living laboratories" for scientists and students. Coral reefs are "living laboratories"
where scientists as well as students can study the ecology and impacts on this habitat,
relating such information to other environments, including the earth as a whole.
Importance of the Coral Reefs
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary