The rainforests of the sea

Coral reefs are some of the world's most amazing ecosystems, and they're largely unexplored, since humans have only recently learned how to dive and spend long amounts of time studying them.

Here are a few astonishing facts about coral reefs.

Coral reefs hold secrets to human health

Many drugs come from natural products, and we're just beginning to scratch the surface of what medicines that impact human health can be found in these habitats. According to one recent study, "the prospect of finding a new drug in the sea, especially among coral reef species, may be 300 to 400 times more likely than isolating one from a terrestrial ecosystem." Coral reef products have been used for the treatment of everything from cancer to cardiovascular disease.

$375 billion in annual impact

Coral reefs drive at least $375 billion in ecosystem services to humans per year, and some studies show that the actual value may reach as high as $9.9 trillion! There is no question that these systems are vitally important to humans, especially in those communities connected directly to them.

Astonishing biodiversity

Coral reefs have often been called the "rainforests of the sea," but some studies indicate that they exceed rainforests in their diversity, and this despite the fact that they occur in nutrient-poor waters.

Half a billion people depend on reefs

Studies show that hundreds of millions of people rely directly on coral reefs for a range of services, the most important being food.

We all pay for coral bleaching

 The global costs of a single coral bleaching event is estimated between $20 and $80 billion.

Up to half of them have been lost

Estimates range from 20% to more than half of all coral reefs have been lost in the past 30 to 50 years. And predictions are grim: some scientists believe 90% of them will be gone by 2050. But researchers and local communities haven't give up. That's what Saving Atlantis is about. And there are things that you can do to help as well.