Coral reefs are among the largest, most beautiful living structures on Earth. These diverse ecosystems support a vast array of organisms that depend on coral reefs for habitat, food and shelter. They provide physical barriers to coastal erosion and protection from storm waves and tsunamis. Reefs are also an important economic resource as well as homes for commercially and recreationally important species of fish and a recreational locale for diving and tourism activities.
Coral reefs are under threat today from a host of natural and human-induced factors. As a result, they are undergoing large-scale ecological and physical changes. In order to assess, monitor, and restore coral reefs through research and education, the National Coral Reef Institute (NCRI) was established by Congressional mandate in 1998. NCRI operates at the Nova Southeastern University Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography near Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Researchers at NCRI are exploring scientifically sound approaches to understand, assess, monitor, restore and mitigate injured coral reefs. NCRI is recognized by NOAA as one of its external coral reef research institutes. NCRI's management-oriented research is designed to provide solid information and research products designed to help understand, manage and conserve these invaluable assets for generations to come.
PHOTO CREDITS: Dave Gilliam, Kirk Kilfoyle and Wendy Wood-Derrer.