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Why are cnidarians important to humans?

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Cnidarians compose a huge number of species, including jellyfish and coral, and coral reefs in particular are some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, which translates into a huge amount of economic, medical and environmental benefits for humans all over the world. If these unique and rich systems are lost, serious environmental impacts are likely to follow, in addition to the important implications for medical research and local economies.

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In terms of environmental benefits, many coral reefs act as a protective barrier for nearby shorelines. This is especially important in the case of nearby cities or coastal settlements, as the reef naturally prevents damage from waves and erosion. Ports and harbors also benefit from this natural deterrent, and often form the economic heart of coastal communities.

A coral reef can support around 4,000 species of fish alone, and there are often many more species dependent on this underwater environment. Medical science has major interest in these environments, due to the fact that many new drugs, cures and new medicines have already been discovered, with the potential for many more advancements.

Economically, coral reefs are extremely important, with the Florida Keys coral reefs estimated to be worth in the region of more than $7 billion dollars. Similar financial importance can be found at almost all other coral reefs worldwide.

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