Because of their hard, jagged structure, coral reefs can reduce wave energy by 97% and serve as a natural flood defense along nearly 45,000 miles (71,000km) of coastline worldwide. Nearly 200 million people depend on coral reefs to protect them from storm surges and waves.

As climate change continues to increase the power of storms and the likelihood of flooding, coastal communities will become even more reliant on their coral reefs for coastal protection.

The island of Roatan is protected by its reefs. Photo by CORAL staff
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