Coral Reef NOAA
May 26, 2016  

Status of Corals

Coral Reef Ecosystems
Deep-sea Coral Ecosystems
cover of report, The State of Deep Coral Ecosystems of the United States: 2007.  It depicts a topographical map of the oceans surrounding the US and highlights US waters that contain deep-sea coral

Coral Reef Ecosystems

The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2008 represents an ongoing NOAA effort to assess the condition of the nation's shallow water coral reef ecosystems. The 2008 report was produced in collaboration with teams of experts that authored chapters on the condition of coral reef ecosystems in 15 locations or jurisdictions within the US and Freely Associated States (FAS). Data and information presented in the report represents the contributions of over 270 scientists and managers working throughout the country to conserve and protect coral reef ecosystems and the organisms that depend on them.

Report Highlights:

  • Approximately half of the coral reef ecosystem resources under US or FAS jurisdiction are considered by scientists to be in 'poor' or 'fair' condition and have declined over time due to several natural and anthropogenic threats.
  • Reef habitats adjacent to populated areas tend to experience more intense threat levels related to issues like coastal development and recreational use, but even remote reefs far from human settlements are imperiled by illegal fishing, marine debris, and climate-related impacts such as bleaching, disease and acidification.
  • The report represents the most current and comprehensive assessment of the condition of US coral reef ecosystems and makes this wealth of knowledge widely available.




cover of report, Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2008l

Status of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the World: 2008 is the 5th global report that aims to present the current status of the world's coral reefs, the threats to the reefs, and the initiatives being undertaken to arrest the decline in the world's coral reefs. Reports are also available from 2004, 2002, 2000, and 1998. These reports have been produced using the data and information from hundreds of coral reef experts around the world.

Report Highlights:

  • The world has effectively lost 19 percent of the original area of coral reefs; 15 percent are seriously threatened with loss within the next 10–20 years; and 20 percent are under threat of loss in 20–40 years. The latter two estimates have been made under a 'business as usual' scenario that does not consider the looming threats posed by global climate change or that effective future management may conserve more coral reefs.
  • 46 percent of the world's reefs are regarded as being relatively healthy and not under any immediate threats of destruction, except from the 'currently unpredictable' global climate threat.
  • The report's recommendations for action to conserve coral reefs include:
    • Urgently combat global climate change;
    • Maximize coral reef resilience;
    • Scale up management of protected areas;
    • Include more reefs in marine protected areas (MPAs);
    • Protect remote reefs;
    • Improve enforcement of MPA regulations; and
    • Help improve decision making with better ecological and socioeconomic monitoring.


cover of report, The State of Deep Coral Ecosystems of the United States: 2007.  It depicts a topographical map of the oceans surrounding the US and highlights US waters that contain deep-sea coral

Deep-sea Coral Ecosystems

The State of Deep Coral Ecosystems of the United States: 2007 was prepared by NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program and written by experts in seven regions around the country. The report provides an assessment of deep-sea coral ecosystems in US waters including: the biology of deep corals and their associated species, their spatial distribution, the stressors that may threaten their survival, current management measures, and regional priorities for future research.

This report shows that these habitats, found in cold waters at depths ranging from the surface to 3000+ meters, may be much more extensive and important to ocean ecosystems than previously known. NOAA works with Regional Fishery Management Councils, other Federal partners, academia, non-governmental organizations, industry, and other stakeholders to understand and protect these unique ecosystems.

Current Threats to U.S. Deep Coral Ecosystems:

  • Fishing gear, especially bottom trawling
  • Oil and gas exploration and development

Threats Requiring Further Research:

  • Bottom trawling
  • Climate change and ocean acidification