Healthy + Resilient Coral Reefs = Healthy + Resilient Coasts

The coral reefs that lie just offshore of many of our coasts are more than things of wonder and beauty. These resources are inextricably linked to coastal community safety and protection.

Healthy coral reefs have rough surfaces and complex structures that dissipate much of the force of incoming waves. This buffers shorelines from currents, waves, and storms, helping to prevent loss of life, property damage, and erosion. Coastlines protected by coral reefs are also more stable, in terms of erosion, than those without.

A recent study by Pew Charitable Trust found that coral reefs lessen wave energy by an average of 97 percent. NOAA reports that the resilience of U.S. coastal communities to storms, flooding, erosion and other threats can be strengthened when they are protected by natural infrastructure, like coral reefs, or a combination of natural habitat and built infrastructure. As warmer ocean temperatures produce larger and more powerful storms, the role of healthy coral reefs as natural barriers will continue to be in the spotlight.

NOAA plays a key role in promoting resilient coral reefs and coastal communities. The science led by the Coral Reef Conservation Program, as part of NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management, supports developing conservation strategies based on a strong understanding of the goods and services these ecosystems provide because healthy reefs = healthy coasts!

For more information about our work to achieve the conservation and responsible management of coastal and ocean ecosystems, visit http://coast.noaa.gov/.

Healthy Coast