Living on a small island, I am just one of the over 500 million people in the who rely on coral reefs for their food, coastal protection, and livelihoods. Coral reef ecosystems are important for subsistence, fisheries, tourism, shoreline protection, and even important in the development of new medicines! Did you know that of the new cancer drug research today focuses on marine organisms? The barrier reef around St. Croix forms an important natural barrier that protects our shoreline from the eroding forces of the sea, especially during the hurricane season when our island is often pounded by swells driven by winds that can reach over 160 miles per hour. The reef protects our coastal dwellings and agricultural land and of course our beautiful beaches that is a big draw for the tourism industry that we depend on and of course an important part of our natural heritage and local recreation.