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Coral Reef  (198 Photos)

Coral reefs are sometimes called the ‘rainforest of the sea’ and are built from the calcium secretions of millions of coral ‘polyps’ living together in a symbiotic colony. Yes, Thomas Friedman, they are both a plant and an animal. Covering less than one percent of the ocean surface in the world, coral reefs are home to about 25% of marine species. The coral reefs in parts of Southeast Asia such as the Philippines have been dynamited, poisoned with cyanide, crushed by moro ami ‘fishermen’, polluted by sewage from excessive development, and bleached by rising ocean temperatures (sounds pretty bad, huh?). It’s hard to imagine what the reefs of the world used to be like before all this destruction, but in a few parts of the Philippines (within the Coral Triangle) there are still some sections of very healthy reef that are more than 95% pristine. My two favorites are Apo Island and Tubbataha in the Philippines, and many of the reef photos you’ll find here are from those two scuba diving sites. In Indonesia, I’ve heard from friends that Raja Ampat and Komodo are the best, so they are at the top of my list for future trips.