Why coral reefs are so important: underwater in Egypt

'Coral reefs are not just a pretty face,' says Simon Donner, a climate scientist taking a break from Cop27 to go snorkelling with the Guardian in Egypt. Reefs provide 'really incredibly important services to people all across the tropics and subtropics, including food, income, but also shoreline protection', he said, adding that without the structure of the coral reef off the coast of many islands, waves and the effects of rising sea levels would be much greater. The coral reefs off the coast of the resort town are part of a 2,485-mile Red Sea network, with 200 species of coral off Egypt alone. They are considered by scientists to be more resilient to global heating than those found elsewhere in the world, such as Australia's Great Barrier Reef, which has suffered four mass-bleaching events in the past six years. But here, Donner spotted signs of disease and possible heat-related damage to corals that closely hug the shoreline.