According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, coral reefs are one of the most diverse and valuable ecosystems on earth. Reefs support more species per unit area than any other marine environment.
Coral reefs support approximately 4,000 species of fish, 800 species of hard corals and hundreds of other species. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, scientists estimate that there are possibly one to eight million undiscovered species of organisms that live in and around coral reefs.
A number of drugs are developed from coral reef plants and animals as potential cures for cancer, arthritis, human bacterial infections, viruses and other diseases. Coral reefs act as a buffer to protect shorelines from wave action, erosion, property damage and loss of life.