Paris – Coral reefs may be losing their ability to shield coastal communities from storms, sea surges and tsunamis, geologists said on Thursday.

More than 200 million people around the world depend on coral reefs to protect coastal homes and beaches from the ravaging impact of high seas.

But this vital buffer is at threat from reef degradation, according to a paper published by scientists at the US Geological Survey (USGS).

Degraded coral reefs suffer from erosion of the ocean bed, which increases the depth of the sea.

As a result, it becomes harder for coral to grow fast enough to keep up with water levels, which are rising as a result of global warming.

© AFP RUBEN SAUYAI More than 200 million people around the world depend on coral reefs to protect coastal homes and beaches from the ravaging impact of high seas

© AFP RUBEN SAUYAI – More than 200 million people around the world depend on coral reefs to protect coastal homes and beaches from the ravaging impact of high seas