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Report: Many of the world's coral reefs permanently lost
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The world has lost an estimated 27 percent of its coral reefs, an international environmental monitoring organization said Monday.
The Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network said in its report, titled "Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2000," that some of those reefs are gone for good while others could possibly recover.
The network gathered data from scientists around the globe to compile the report.
The biggest coral catastrophe to date was a widespread coral bleaching epidemic that occurred in 1998. Scientists blame that on the largest El Niño and La Niña climate changes ever recorded. According to the research, about 16 percent of the world's reefs were destroyed in nine months and about half of those ruined reefs are likely to be gone forever.
While global warming appears to be the biggest threat facing coral reefs, there are other potential hazards, the report said. Those include water pollution, sediment from coastal development, destructive fishing techniques including the use of dynamite and cyanide and sand mining.The study said the most damaged reefs were found in the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean, Southeast and East Asia, and the Caribbean/Atlantic. The world's healthiest reefs are found in the Pacific and off Australia.
Coral reefs have been characterized as the marine equivalent of rainforests because they are vibrant centers of sea life that harbor a myriad of species.
The report said that if nothing is done to change current trends, 60 percent of the world's reefs could be lost by 2030.
Sponsors of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network include the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization.
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