The Status of Coral Reefs and Its Importance for Coastal Protection: A Case Study of Northeastern Hainan Island, South China Sea
This study evaluated the status of coral communities at the fringing reefs in the northern South China Sea, and their potential role in maintaining nearby coastline stability of northeastern Hainan Island (Puqian Bay, Hainan Bay). Thirty-nine coral species were recorded with mean coral cover of 5.3%, and are dominated by massive Galaxea, Platygyra and Porites. The coral communities were clustered into two groups (Clu-HNB and Clu-PQB) corresponding to different stable coastal conditions. Coral
... conditions. Coral communities at the Hainan Bay with higher diversity and greater cover corresponded to relatively stable coastline, whereas those at the southern Puqian Bay (with the lowest coral diversity and spatial coverage) corresponded to severe coastline erosion. This work provides some direct evidence that declined coral reefs would weaken their functions to maintain a stable coastline, resulting in severe coastal erosion. It is also useful to help coastal managers and local people pay more attention to the importance of coral reefs in coastal protection and encourage them to change their ways to get sustainable use of coral reef resources. It may be beneficial to inspire or initiate coastal engineering to manage coasts with natural coral reef solution.