WRECKING THE REEFS

CORAL ECOSYSTEMS ARE IN DESPERATE TROUBLE ALL AROUND THE WORLD--AND GUESS WHO'S TO BLAME

Once the coral reefs of the Caribbean all shimmered with life. Herds of iridescent parrotfish darted through forests of branching corals. Spiny lobsters lurked in crevices, while squid, spooked by shadows, dissolved into clouds of ink. But now many of these bustling underwater habitats are taking a beating--and the tropical storms that tore through the region in recent weeks are the least of their problems. "Reefs are tough," observes Clive Wilkinson, a biologist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science. "You can hammer them with cyclones, and they'll bounce right back. What they can't bounce back from is chronic, constant stress."...

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