Coral reefs protect coastlines, providing self-repairing breakwaters. Healthy coral reefs can dramatically reduce incoming wave energy. Problems here have major implications. Even a one meter loss of coral reef height can double the damage done to the shoreline and triple the costs from an extreme weather event. Without reefs, the cost of damages done by 100-year storm events could almost double.
Reefs may help us in other ways, and not just through their touristic appeal. They can for example provide medicinal compounds with potential uses in treatments for cancers, Alzheimer’s and numerous other diseases like arthritis and bacterial infections.