Couple items for those of you who don't spend much time underwater.
1. The mineral structure, the big rocky stuff that sinks pirate ships that run afoul the reef, IS...NOT...ALIVE... Never has been, never will be. It is merely the mineral deposits that corals deposit on things to use as a base on which to grow. So when they go on an on about it being thousands of years old and being the largest organism on the planet, they are either woefully ignorant or blatantly lying. It's like saying the human race is the biggest organism on the planet because we build cities and have people everywhere. Scratch off the top inch of a reef and you have hit the dead stuff.
2. Corals do not take thousands of years to grow. They take days, weeks, and sometimes months to grow. Many spawn free swimming and drifting larva every lunar cycle or so (full moon).
3. That's right boys and like the 2 girls here, corals are not plants, they are animals that cultivate algae inside themselves to use as a food source. That is the dreaded "bleaching" they are always worried about. Bleaching does not always equal death to a coral, nor is it always cause by a change in temperature. Disease, stress, salinity, water chemistry, water clarity, sand settling, and people (touching, nets, poisons, boats etc.) all cause that. Sometimes the corals dump the algae in order to get a more productive local algae to grow. Corals also catch and eat various things, hence why the bleaching is not a death sentence.
4. Coral reefs are not static. They move over time. When they spawn they dump millions of larvae into the currents which spread everywhere. If they find a spot that is favorable they will start a new reef. Storms break up the reefs and the chunks can go on to form new reefs or end up in dead spots on the old reef and patch the holes. So when they go on about parts of a reef dying, yep it probably is. Is that normal? Depends on why. A reef being smothered by runoff silt, probably not. Water temps changing, yep happens all the time. Currents and regional temps have never been static, they move and change with time. The reef will die off during the change. Temperature tolerant organism will take over, and when the temperature shifts back they too will move on or die and the corals will take over again....growing right back on top of the "dead" reef" like nothing ever happened..
5. Coral reefs can be replaced at an time in locations they find favorable by the average person. They'd like you to think that only dedicated government certified highly trained scientists are the ones capable of dealing with the problem. Not even remotely true. There is an entire cottage industry in the aquarium trade of people who grow corals in their homes. Those same techniques are used often to repopulate areas that have been damaged much in the same way you would replant trees after a hurricane. I personally have been kicking the idea around for years of building my own patch reef offshore for fun and profit down here in Florida away from the well known dive spots loved to death by tourists.
I love the ocean and spend is much time in it as I can, but I grow weary of the shrill land lubbers claiming to know what is best, if only we would just put them in charge. Fuck that. If the government was in charge of the ocean there would be a shortage of sand within 10 years.