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Group sues to protect South Florida corals

The Centre for Biological Diversity has sued the federal government for failure to prepare recovery plans for the endangered elkhorn and staghorn coral species.

An environmental group filed suit Wednesday to force the federal government to improve protection for two species of coral found off the southeast Florida coast.

The Center for Biological Diversity, based in Tucson, Ariz., sued the National Marine Fisheries Service for failing to prepare recovery plans for elkhorn and staghorn corals, both of which are on the endangered species list.

Once among the most important reef-building corals, elkhorn and staghorn corals have sustained a decline of up to 98 percent in their habitat, which stretches from the reefs off Palm Beach County to the Caribbean Sea.

Among the major threats to these species are pollution, ocean warming and ocean acidification from the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

"Elkhorn and staghorn corals used to be all over Florida's reefs, and now they're in danger of going extinct," said Jaclyn Lopez, a lawyer in the center's St. Petersburg office. "They desperately need a recovery plan and quick action to reduce carbon dioxide pollution."

Read more at:http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/palm-beach/fl-coral-lawsuit-20130123,0,7282663.story

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