The effects of climate change are not only restricted to earth’s surface.

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Carbon dioxide emissions can be stored in the oceans for up to thousands of years. And, as it saturates our ocean waters, it is producing unwarranted effects on our marine ecosystems, especially on coral reefs. Although often overlooked, coral reefs serve fundamental marine functions. For one, they provide an essential habitat to many marine creatures, harboring as much life as rain forests. Its demise could lead to the chain extinctions of a vast array of marine life.

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Carbon dioxide increases the temperature of the ocean and alters the chemistry of seawater, making it more acidic. Consequently, coral reefs are burdened with greater difficulty to build and maintain their calcium-based exoskeletons. This means that they are left more vulnerable to attack, bleaching, or disease, which further threatens their continued existence.

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International organization Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) is working solely to save coral reefs by building partnerships among large networks – including local communities, government leaders, marine recreation operators, and marine park managers – to restore marine protected areas through education, training, and management. Restoring these areas has proven key to securing the future survival of coral reefs, as well as replenishing fisheries, and preventing recreational damage and unsustainable coastal development.

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The benefits of marine protected areas are reported to extend even beyond their boundaries to adjacent areas, increasing the abundance, biomass, and diversity of many marine species. Visit the CORAL website for more information on how you can be involved in the mission to protect our precious coral reefs.