Elegance coral faces many threats that are affecting coral reefs globally. These include increasing pressure on coastal resources, resulting from human population growth; and technological development, such as mechanical dredges, and dynamiting and poisoning on reefs to collect fish, which destroys reefs. The impacts of these major factors are compounded by the effects of excessive domestic and agricultural waste in the oceans, poor land-use practices that result in an increase in sediment running on to the reefs, and over-fishing, which can have ‘knock-on’ effects on the reef (6).
The devastating effect of human activities is exemplified by the destruction of a large community of elegance coral in Kushimoto, western Japan, caused by the construction of a marine port, and over 5,000 square kilometres of coral reef was destroyed around Sesoke Island, Japan, during development of the shoreline (7). Elegance coral may also be threatened by harvesting for the live coral trade. Its beautiful tentacles mean that it is a popular aquarium exhibit, and is one of the species that dominates the live coral trade, a trade that increased tenfold from 1985 to 1997 (8).