The coral reefs are one of the most beautiful and diverse ecosystems in the world. It is a complex structure resulting from the growth over hundreds of years of calcareous coral species, which end housing a wide variety of organisms, such as sponges, algae, anemones, polychaetes, sea urchins, fish, among others. Just to mention one example, in Caribbean coral reefs there are approximately 500 to 700 species of fish, many of which are commercially important.

The Caribbean coral reefs are primarily fringing reefs and bank barrier reefs, distinguished by an abundance of octocorals and sponges that grow from the hard coral base and contribute to the diversity and structural complexity of the reef. These habitats are found in the Gulf of Mexico, Florida Keys, The Bahamas, Cuba, Antilles and Venezuelan coast, with an outlier at Bermuda; which represents about 10% of the global total.

Nowadays, coral reefs in the caribbean have been classified, within the categories of the Red List of Ecosystems, as “Endangered”, since there are a number of factors that threaten its stability. An example of this are coral diseases, water pollution, bleaching, ocean acidification, overfishing and increased intensity and frequency of storms. These above factors could, individually or together, affect their structure and function, which can lead to the deterioration of the ecosystems and eventual collapse.

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http://cms.iucnrle.org/case-study/caribbean-coral-reefs/