Status and Trends of Caribbean Coral Reefs (1970-2012)

The Caribbean is a sprawling sea of deep nutrient-poor waters punctuated by great oases of biomass production and diversity of species, otherwise known as coral reefs. These reef systems circumscribe the shallow seafloor surrounding islands and delimit the continental shelf edge abutting contiguous landmasses: They also populate sunken and receding sub-marine banks. The reef systems of the Caribbean provide a wide range of services for almost 40 million people, which affect livelihood, economic progress, food security, cultural expressions and communion with nature. They are the basis of the tourism and fishing industries in the insular Caribbean and most of Central America, Mexico and the southeastern United States. Both tourism and fisheries development are major contributors to GDP and employment in the region.