Puerto Rico Six species of reef-building coral could vanish from the Caribbean due to rising temperatures and toxic runoff from islands' development, according to a study released Thursday.
Nearly two dozen scientists from U.S. and Caribbean universities, as well as nonprofits, identified the threatened species while reviewing studies and scientific data at a March conference in Dominica.
The species - about 10 percent of the 62 varieties capable of forming reefs in the region - include staghorn and elkhorn corals, which were once among the most prominent.
"One of the Atlantic Ocean's most beautiful marine habitats no longer exists in many places because of dramatic increases in coral diseases, mostly caused by climate change and warmer waters," said Michael Smith, director of the Caribbean Biodiversity Initiative at Conservation International, a U.S.-based nonprofit.
Researchers have blamed rising temperature, disease and pollutants for damage to the coral reefs, which host countless marine plants and animals.