Reef Madness

This May marked the first time any species of Caribbean coral was designated as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act (see "Clouds Over the Coral," Features, March/April 1999). The two species added, staghorn (Acropora cervicornis) and elkhorn (Acropora palmata), have both suffered a 97 percent decline since the late 1970s due to a combination of disease and human disturbance. By far the greatest culprit, however, is coral bleaching caused by rising ocean temperatures.