In August 2005, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported a serious decline in coral reef
ecosystems in US waters over the past five years. The decline is attributed to a wide array of threats, including overfishing, climate change, marine diseases, landbased pollution, storms, and grounded ships (Sheer 2005).
In over three-quarters of the areas studied, NOAA found that climate change was a moderate or high threat to coral reef ecosystems (NOAA 2005). Global warming
was directly implicated in the die-off of reefs in Guam, in the North Pacific. Coral reefs are important to marine ecosystems as well as the US economy since they provide nutrients and habitat for marine wildlife and protect shorelines from erosion (Sheer 2005).