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In this March 16, 2012 photo released by the Puntacana Ecological Foundation, coral grows in a coral reef nursery as part of reef restoration work in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Advocates say the reef restoration work, focused on the region’s fast-growing but threatened staghorn and elkhorn coral species, can boost rates of recovery and improve the outlook for coral. The efforts will never resurrect the vibrant reefs of 50 years ago, they acknowledge, but they believe they can help preserve some of a reef’s functionality and beauty. (AP Photo/Puntacana Ecological Foundation, Victor Manuel Galvan)

Coral reefs at risk

Across the globe, reefs that have proven resilient for thousands of years are in serious decline, degraded by over fishing, pollution, coastal development and warming ocean waters. And threats to coral are only expected to intensify as a result of climate change and ocean acidification due to greenhouse gases. Scientists predict that coral is headed for extinction, possibly within this century.