Corals: Overview

coralCorals and sponges are animals that form complex seafloor structures -- the foundation for some of the richest ecosystems in the world.

Corals provide shelter, protection from currents and predators, and areas for breeding, spawning, nursing, feeding and resting for fish and other species.

In addition to providing the foundation for some of the most prolific ecosystems in the world, deep-sea corals and sponges may also be important for pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. Deep-sea species are already being tested to produce antibiotics, pain killers and medications for cancer, AIDS, asthma and heart disease.

Slow growing and incredibly sensitive to disturbance, deep-sea corals that are plowed over or damaged by bottom trawling may not recover for centuries, if at all. The loss of corals and sponges, in turn, takes away homes for a host of species.

Meanwhile, ocean acidification, caused by carbon emissions, threatens corals’ ability to build reefs and continue to grow.

Oceana works to stop ocean acidification, and using the precautionary Oceana Approach, we work to protect corals from destructive bottom trawling and dredging.