Test Your Habitat IQ
Gulf Spill Restoration Website
Stay Connected

Coral Reefs

Saving Underwater Living Museums

Coral reefs are some of the oldest and most diverse ecosystems on the planet, home to more than 1 million species. Reefs buffer shorelines from waves and storms that cause flooding and erosion, support commercial and subsistence fisheries at a value of more than $100 million annually, and are home to a thriving recreation and tourism industry.

These important ecosystems are in danger. Coral reefs are stressed by pollution, sedimentation, overfishing, invasive species, vessel groundings, increasing tourism and recreation, and marine debris. Reefs are also susceptible to the effects of climate change, such as rising temperatures and ocean acidification.

NOAA’s Approach to Coral Restoration

Restoration is one method of helping coral adapt to a changing environment and to hasten their recovery. We are working together with NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program and Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program to pursue coral conservation by:

  • Responding to and restoring coral reefs after physical impacts such as ship groundings.
  • Implementing projects that address coral conservation priorities, with a focus on land-based sources of pollution.
  • Implementing projects to restore corals listed as endangered.
  • Controlling overgrowth of invasive species and preventing loss of habitat.

Delivering Lasting Results

In 2009, NOAA received $167 million in funding from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act for coastal and marine restoration projects. With this funding, NOAA implemented four coral restoration projects—two in the Caribbean and two in the Pacific.