| || Lying northeast of the Australian coast, the Great Barrier Reef contains more than 400 species of coral over its 1,550 miles and constitutes the largest coral structure in the world. Added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1981, this rich sanctuary of underwater life is refuge to more than 1,500 fish species; 4,000 mollusk species; the dugong, a marine mammal threatened with extinction; and six of the seven sea turtle species on earth. In total, more than 800 species of coral have been identified on the planet, which serve as habitats to 4,000 species of fish. An essential ecosystem for the protection of coasts and oceanic fauna, coral also provides a significant number of goods and services to coastal populations: food, building materials, tourism revenue. Today, it is estimated that the monetary value of coral ecosystems is more than $375 billion. Apart from ethical considerations, the protection of coral is therefore an essential concern both on economic and environmental levels.
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