Importance of Guam’s Reefs

According to the 2008 State of the Coral Reef Ecosystems of Guam report, “Guam’s coral reef resources are both economically and culturally important, providing numerous goods and services for the residents of Guam, including cultural/traditional use, tourism, recreation, fisheries, and shoreline/infrastructure protection.” A recent study conducted by an team of renown researchers estimated that Guam’s reefs contribute approximately $127 million to the local economy each year. Guam’s reefs are also special in that they host an incredible variety of marine organisms. Despite the relatively small size of the island, a diversity of coastal habitats occur around the island, providing refuge for an amazing array of marine species. Did you know that Guam has one of the most diverse marine ecosystems among U.S. jurisdictions? As reported in the 2003 edition of Micronesica, a journal published by the University of Guam, Guam’s reefs are home to over 5000 documented marine organisms, including over 1000 species of reef fishes, about 400 coral species, over 650 algae species, over 1700 molluscs, over 800 crustaceans, and many other marine species. It’s generally held that the number of documented species is only a fraction of the total number of marine species that occur in Guam’s waters, an exciting prospect for the curious and adventurous naturalist.