The United States’ coral reefs are in fair condition, according to a recent reef condition status report, but vulnerable to decline. Scientists estimate that along the coast of Florida, where degradation is most severe, perhaps as little as 2% of original coral cover remains.
The report, released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (Noaa) and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science last week, assesses reefs along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, from the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to Guam, Hawaii and American Samoa. It is the first of its kind to do so using standardized monitoring data on a national scale. Analyzing records from 2012 to 2018, researchers identify ocean warming and acidification, coral disease and fishing as ongoing threats to coral reefs, indicating a “dire outlook” for these ecosystems.