Corals

Corals, sponges, and algae are the major components of most coral reef communities as shown in this picture.

Corals and Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are the most diverse of all marine ecosystems. They teem with life, with perhaps one quarter of all ocean species depending on reefs for food and shelter. This is a remarkable statistic...
Colorful corals are disappearing in the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef – Going, Going, Gone???

Video of Storms, Starfish Wiped out Half of Great Barrier Reef Coral Dr. Nancy Knowlton, Sant Chair of Marine Science and Editor-in-Chief of the Ocean Portal, went on PBS NewsHour to talk about Great...

Where did Half of the Great Barrier Reef's Coral Go?

In the past 30 years, the Great Barrier Reef -- Australia's iconic natural wonder -- has lost half of its coral to a combination of forces. Dr. Nancy Knowlton, Sant Chair of Marine Science...
On Moorea, an island in French Polynesia, researchers are striving to complete a biocode—a DNA catalog of every life form big enough to pick up with tweezers.

Scientists Catalog Life on the Island of Moorea

Welcome to Moorea, a tiny, isolated island in the middle of the vast Pacific. Moorea is 132 square kilometers (51 square miles) of tropical ecosystems – from jungle and wetlands to beaches and coral...

Ocean Acidification Excites Boring Sponges

This orange boring sponge ( Cliona varians ) overgrows several coral species at Panama's Smithsonian Tropical Studies Institute. Credit: Amber Stubler Boring sponges get a bad rap. Their own name betrays them, announcing to...

Field Notes from the East African Coast

Traditional fishing techniques now involve monofilament nets, with snorkelers diving down to ensure the bigger fish don't get away. Credit: Caine Delacy We began this journey three months ago, a team of scientists and...
Nuclear bomb in Bikini Atoll

Naturally Resilient

Coral Reefs Can Recover From Disasters. How Can We Save Them From Us? by Michael Webster, Coral Reef Alliance In 1946, the US military tested nuclear bombs on a coral reef in the Pacific,...

Helpful Herbivores

Convict surgeonfish are the roaming sheep of the reef but, instead of noshing on grass, they feed on algae. Credit: Michael Webster When snorkeling in the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area (KHFMA) in West...

Underwater Photography Contest from University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School

Every year the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science hosts an underwater photography contest for amateur photographers. From playful marine mammals to hard-to-see invertebrates, these photos capture beautiful underwater scenes...

Coralline Algae: The Unsung Architects of Coral Reefs

Many species of pink coralline algae, which cements coral reefs together, cover a reef surface in the Southern Line Islands. Credit: Maggie D. Johnson, Scripps Institution of Oceanography Stare at a tide pool and...
A shell placed in seawater with increased acidity slowly dissolves over 45 days.

Ocean Acidification

Ocean acidification is sometimes called “climate change’s equally evil twin,” and for good reason: it's a significant and harmful consequence of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that we don't see or feel because...
Sunset over a fishing net.

Success Stories in Ocean Conservation

It is easy to feel hopeless when reading the news coverage of ocean conservation. Between climate change , acidification , pollution and overfishing, it often feels like the ocean and its biodiversity, which we...

From Despair to Repair

Sit down with two veteran marine scientists, Dr. Nancy Knowlton and Dr. Jeremy Jackson, who fell in love with each other and the reefs of the Caribbean 40 years ago. Those reefs are now...
This queen parrotfish scrapes algae from Caribbean reefs with its parrot-like beak.

From Despair to Repair: Protecting Parrotfish Can Help Bring Back Caribbean Coral Reefs

Sit down with two veteran marine scientists, Dr. Nancy Knowlton and Dr. Jeremy Jackson, who fell in love with each other and the reefs of the Caribbean 40 years ago. Those reefs are now...
Pink crustose algae covers the surface of a rock.

Microbes Help Corals Pick a Home and Settle Down

Like pink paint, crustose coralline algae covers the surface of the rock in a thin layer. This hard surface is a preferred home for the larvae of coral and other invertebrates (such as abalone)...
The coastline of American Samoa National Marine Sanctuary

The Reefs of American Samoa: A Story of Hope

American Samoa National Marine Sanctuary comprises a fringing coral reef ecosystem nestled within an eroded volcanic crater on the island of Tutuila, American Samoa. Credit: Wendy Cover Sometimes called the rainforests of the sea,...
A "reef hotel" made of PVS layers on the seafloor.

Worth the Investment: Ocean Real Estate Reveals Hidden Diversity

Nancy Knowlton, Smithsonian's Sant Chair for Marine Science, puts out an Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structure (ARMS) during a dive in the Red Sea. Credit: Michael Berumen Good real estate is hard to find. This...
Happy World Ocean Day!

Coral Letters: A Message from the Corals of Curacao

If you look closely, you can read a message in the corals. We are not being metaphorical. Barry and Aimee Brown set out to search for hidden letters among brain coral colonies two years...