Coral Reefs

Called the “rain forests of the sea,” coral reefs are important ocean ecosystems that support a quarter of all marine organisms despite covering less than one percent of the sea floor.

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

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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...
Amy Baco-Taylor

Amy Baco-Taylor: Passionate about Deep-Sea Corals

Dr. Amy Baco-Taylor dives to deep-sea environments to study corals and the invertebrates that live on them. Two events made me passionate about deep-sea corals . One was my first submarine dive in a...

Coral Scientist Brendan Roark: On an Urgent Mission

Dr. Brendan Roark discusses different methods of sampling deep-sea corals with undergraduate students at Texas A&M University. Credit: James LaCombe Deep-sea coral beds are true biodiversity hotspots. It’s urgent that we study these extreme...

Martha Nizinski: Hooked on Deep-Sea Corals

Scientist Martha Nizinski examines a sample of the deep-sea coral Lophelia pertusa , collected 600-m (1,969-ft) deep off the coast of the southeastern United States. Credit: A. Howard Nine years ago I was invited...

Peter Auster: The Gee Whiz Factor

Auster gets ready to study fish predators at Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Georgia. Credit: Courtesy Greg McFall, NOAA I still haven’t gotten beyond the ‘gee whiz’ factor of studying...

Aleutian Islands Deep-Sea Corals

In this brief video clip from NOAA, catch a glimpse of the startling beauty and diversity of life found among deep-sea corals near the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. Explore more in the multimedia feature...

World Oceans Day 2012 - Live Webcast

On World Oceans Day - June 8th, 2012 - the Living Oceans Foundation hosted a live web-based conversation between Sylvia Earle at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and a team of scientists...
The 2012 Indonesian Biodiversity Research Center dive class stand in a group together

Scuba Diving Course a Success for IBRC Students

The 2012 scientific diving class stands together at the Indonesian Biodiversity Research Center's headquarters in Sanur, Bali. The class participated in an intensive one week scientific diving course, learning how to use scuba diving...
A graph compares the crustacean biodiversity of coral reefs around the world.

Hotspot of Biodiversity

This graph compares the crustacean biodiversity of coral reefs in Bali with two sites on the Great Barrier Reef (Heron and Lizard), Ningaloo Reef (NW Australia), Moorea, French Polynesia, Hawaii and the Line Islands...
Intense volcanic CO2 vents in Ili Ili Bua Bua, Normanby Island, Papua New Guinea.

Will Coral Reefs Survive Acidification?

Nestled among the beautiful coral reefs of Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a place that could provide the key to our understanding of one of the biggest threats to coral reef survival: Ocean Acidification...
Where the pH is the lowest, corals can no longer grow - sand, rubble and seagrasses replace the reef.

Sneak Peek: Future of Coral Reefs in an Acidifying Ocean

Scientists don’t often get the opportunity to travel through time. But nestled among the beautiful coral reefs of Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a place that provides a glimpse today of what could be...
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...
A whale shark swims with a diver off the coast of East Africa.

The Big Five of the Ocean: Exploring the Waters of East Africa

A whale shark swims with a diver off the coast of East Africa. Credit: Caine Delacy When we think "Africa," we think of the "Big Five"—lions, elephants, leopards, buffalo and rhinos—that crisscross the African...
A squat lobster and blackbelly rosefish find shelter on a Lophelia pertusa coral reef off the southeastern United States.

Deep-sea Corals

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...
A Pontoh pygmy seahorse

10 Things You Never Knew About Seahorses

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...

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...

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