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Figure 3. Sonar maps...Click to Enlarge Image

Most people now recognize that coral reefs worldwide are in decline, and fingers are commonly pointed at algae as the culprit. The authors have had the good fortune to study pristine reefs at more than 50 uninhabited islands in the Pacific Ocean. Although unaffected by human activity, these reefs show considerable variety in their percentage of coral versus algal cover, with some being dominated by various species of algae. It has thus become clear that, although algae may pose a problem in some situations, these plants are an essential part of nearly every healthy reef system.

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