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Feds protect 20 species of coral as threatened

  • Endangered Coral -1.jpg

    This undated handout photo provided by NOAA shows Acropora globiceps which occurs in the Indo-Pacific; within U.S. waters it occurs in Guam, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Pacific Remote island areas and American Samoa. NOAA announced Wednesday it will afford Endangered Species Act protections to 20 coral species. All 20 species will be listed as threatened, none as endangered. Fifteen of the newly listed species occur in the Indo-Pacific and five in the Caribbean. (AP Photo/NOAA) (The Associated Press)

  • 0bc9c26fabf203215e0f6a706700418b.jpg

    This undated handout photo provided by NOAA shows Oribicella faveolata which occurs in the Caribbean; within U.S. waters it occurs along Florida coast and Florida Keys in the Atlantic Ocean, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Gulf of Mexico. NOAA announced Wednesday it will afford Endangered Species Act protections to 20 coral species. All 20 species will be listed as threatened, none as endangered. Fifteen of the newly listed species occur in the Indo-Pacific and five in the Caribbean. (AP Photo/NOAA) (The Associated Press)

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.