NOAA 2002-R402
Contact: Stephanie Dorezas
NOAA News Releases 2002
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International experts in coral reef diseases and biomedical science will meet in Charleston, S.C., January 22 – 25 to develop a national research plan for corals, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced today.

The Coral Disease and Health Consortium meeting is hosted by the Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research. Located in Charleston, the center is a part of NOAA's National Ocean Service.

Delegates from academia, non-profit organizations, government, and industry in the United States, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Canada, Israel, and Australia will attend.

"Coral reefs are an important part of the ecosystem that we can't afford to lose," says Dr. Cheryl Woodley, a scientist with the NOAA's Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research in Charleston and the chairperson of the Coral Health and Disease Workshop Committee.

An estimated 60 percent of the world's coral reefs are potentially threatened by disease. In some portions of the Florida Keys, 90 percent of the coral cover has been lost.

Coral reefs perform a wide variety of tasks important to the world's oceans, and yet the scientific knowledge about this natural resource is alarmingly low. The Coral Reef Task Force was formed by presidential appointment in 1998 to address this issue. The Taskforce recommended the formation of the Coral Disease and Health Consortium.

Corals, which exist off the coast of South Carolina as well as most coastal states, slow coastal erosion, represent a critical habitat for 20% of the world's fisheries, and contribute to tourist economies through recreational and sport diving.

NOAA's National Ocean Service is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving, and restoring the nation's coasts and oceans. NOAA Ocean Service balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats and mitigating coastal hazards.

To learn more about NOAA Ocean Service, please visit