Coral reefs play a crucial role in fisheries production and in protecting the coastline from wave action and erosion (Ruddle et al., 1988; Middleton, 1999). Coral reef productivity is a function of their structure, biological recycling, and high retention of nutrients. Severe coral bleaching can occur as a result of seawater warming and clear skies (resulting in higher incident solar radiation).
Major coral bleaching events have occurred in recent times. The last major event at the eastern coast of Africa was in 1998. As a result, many reefs dominated by branching species were severely damaged or killed. Climate related damage is further exacerbated by human land use along coasts and in major river basins through toxic material inputs to coastal ecosystems.