WASHINGTON – The federal government is protecting 20 types of colorful coral by putting them on the list of threatened species, partly because of climate change.
Five species can be found off the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts of Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The other 15 are in the Pacific Ocean area near Guam and American Samoa.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration originally looked at listing 66 species, but Wednesday listed only 20 for various reasons. All are called threatened, not endangered. Coral reefs, which are in trouble worldwide, are important fish habitats.
The agency cited threats to coral from global warming, including oceans getting more acidic, water getting warmer and a bleaching disease. Other threats include fishing practices. Two coral species already were listed.