And when you dipped beneath the waves, all you saw was ... fish. Pretty fish, sure. Big ones, tiny ones, but only fish. No coral. None of the colorful underwater vegetation that provides food and protection and even a home to the denizens of the deep.
This could happen, and is on track to happen says the National Marine Fisheries Service. Its recently-published study of the 82 corals which survive in US waters finds them threatened by pollution, runoff from commercial and residential development, overfishing, and disease. Reporting on the Service's analysis, the Virgin Islands Daily News said, "All seven species (of coral) found in the caribbean were found to be 'extremely likely' to go extinct."
In reaction to the Fisheries report, the Center for Biological Diversity is trying ti persuade the federal government to categorize the corals as endangered species. There is precedent. In 2006, elkhorn and staghorn corals were certified as endangered and protected under the Endangered Species Act.
The Center has posted a petition online in support of its request.