Coral Reef: In Hot Water

Warmer waters, high acidic levels in the ocean and fierce storms are packing a punch on coral reefs. "Coral reefs may prove to be the first ecological victims of unchecked global warming," says Environmental Defense scientist Rod Fujita.

The total loss of coral reefs would mean a huge economic loss in coastal regions dependent on reefs. They provide about $375B year 'round in food and tourism income. This, according to the US Commission on Ocean Policy.

Severe damage to reefs is also an ecological catastrophe. Coral reefs are sometimes called "rain forests of the ocean" because they are home to a rich diversity of marine life like reef fish, turtles, sharks, lobsters and sponges.