Coral Reefs

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Sample the surprising diversity of deep-sea corals. See some of the ways they differ in color, shape, and size. Explore more in the multimedia feature " Coral Gardens of the Deep Sea ."
Welcome to Citizens of the Sea , a new blog series where ocean life comes to...
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From parrotfish that cover themselves in a blanket of their own mucus to tiny...

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Blast fishing, when dynamite or other explosives are used to stun or kill fish, is a practice used in many villages and isolated regions of the world. Hundreds of fish can be seen strewn across the reef, left as bycatch, such as...
Sponges are animals that eat tiny food particles as they pump water through...

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It may be the last place you’d expect to find corals—up to 6,000 m (20,000 ft) below the ocean’s surface, where the water is...

The Ocean Blog

It may be the last place you’d expect to find corals—up to 6,000 m (20,000 ft) below the ocean’s surface, where the water is icy cold and the light dim or absent. Yet believe it or not, lush coral...
By Lindsay Aylesworth, Project Seahorse The day I stepped into my wetsuit, donned my mask, and embarked on my first scuba dive was the day I decided to be a marine biologist. Little did I know that...
Smithsonian zoologist Dr. Steve Cairns named and described this deep-sea coral species, Stephanocyathus paliferus, which is now preserved in the collections of the National Museum of Natural History...
In this photo of a shallow coral reef in the Pacific there are three species of forams . On the left, Peneroplis planatus . In the center, Amphistegina lessonii . And on the right, Laevipeneroplis sp...
This deep-sea black coral from Hawaii ( Leiopathes sp. ) is more than 4,200 years old. Black corals are named for the color of their skeletons, but the external tissues of black corals come in many...
A coral ( Montastraea faveolata ) has just spawned. Each of the hundreds of polyps living in the colony releases a small pink bundle of sperm and eggs. Read more about coral spawing and watch a...
Blast fishing, when dynamite or other explosives are used to stun or kill fish, is a practice used in many villages and isolated regions of the world. Hundreds of fish can be seen strewn across the...
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...
Bacteria are everywhere in the ocean. They live in the water, on virtually every living and non-living surface, and even inside other organisms . There are 1 million bacterial cells in every...
Colorful corals and brittlestars inhabit the Manning Seamount in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of New England. Here you can see golden-colored coral (Enallopsamia rostrata), pinkish-brown coral (...
This forest of Christmas tree worms is a group of polychaete worms that live on tropical coral reefs. See more celebratory ocean creatures in our slideshow!
On a healthy coral reef, fish (as well as many other organisms) thrive. Not only are reefs beautiful, but they are also critical to ocean health and human livelihoods.
Deep-sea corals scientist Dr. J. Murray Roberts photographed these living polyps from the Mingulay Reef Complex off Scotland in aquaria in 2010. Learn more about Roberts' work mapping deep-sea corals...
These beautiful mandarinfish ( Synchiropus splendidus ) are covered in bright blue, red, yellow and orange waves. What they lack, however, are traditional fish scales. They live in western Pacific...
The pearly razorfish’s name may be slightly misleading since it is neither as rare as a pearl nor as dangerous as a razor. It is a common fish that tends to live in clear shallow areas near seagrass...
Coral reefs provide food for swarms of fish, both large and small. More about coral reef ecosystems can be found on our Coral Reefs overview page .
This bearded fireworm ( Hermodice carunculata ) must have a strong stomach -- it’s sucking on fire coral ( Millepora sp. ), which would give the unlucky snorkeler a nasty sting. Encountered in St...
In the X-ray image of this Viper Moray Eel ( Enchelynassa canina ), note the second set of jaws in the “throat”; these are the gill arches, which are present in all fish. Gill arches support the...
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