Why are coral reefs important, and why are they dying?

Dead coral at Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef in May 2016

Dead coral is seen at Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef in May 2016 [File: The Ocean Agency / XL Catlin Seaview Survey / Richard Vevers]

More than 11 billion pieces of plastic larger than five centimetres wide are littering coral reefs across the Asia-Pacific region, according to a recent study. That is enough plastic to make it from Earth to the moon and nearly halfway back. Researchers who published the study last week in Science Magazine believe that the number of…

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