Coral reefs are the most diverse habitats on the planet and serve as homes for fish, crabs, seahorses, sea turtles, and more. They provide coastal protection for communities and millions of dollars in recreation and tourism. There are both shallow coral reef habitats and deep-sea coral habitats.
Despite their great economic and recreational value, corals are severely threatened by rapidly worsening environmental conditions (such as ocean acidification and rising water temperature).They are also threatened by human activity, such as pollution, oil and chemical spills, ship groundings, and marine debris. Corals are slow growing. When corals are harmed, it can take many decades—even centuries—for them to recover.
The best way to conserve coral reefs and reduce future habitat loss is to know everything we can about them. Explore the features below to learn about the many coral species, coral reef habitats, and the work NOAA Fisheries does to research and protect this diverse group of animals.
Deep-Sea Coral Research to Gain New Understanding of Alaska Fish Habitat
A multiyear, international study is using innovative technology to shed light on what red corals need to reproduce and sustain their populations, and how they may respond to climate change.
A Growing Facility to Leverage Coral Science
Advancing coral research, spawning efforts, and restoration science in an expanded experimental wet lab facility.
Mesophotic and Deep Benthic Communities Restoration
Vital seafloor habitats were damaged by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. NOAA and partners are building a network of experts and resources to restore this underexplored area in the Gulf of Mexico.
How Are Fisheries and Coral Reefs Connected?
Learn how overfishing impacts corals and what you can do to protect these important ecosystems.
Science Blog: Innovation to Learn About Deep-Sea Coral Communities in the Gulf of Alaska
We are using new technologies and methods to learn more about deep-sea coral communities in the Gulf of Alaska.
A Cautionary Tale: The 2019 Coral Bleaching Event in Hawaiʻi
Corals bleached less in 2019 than anticipated, but bleaching events are increasingly occurring in the Hawaiian Islands.