Coral Reefs

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From parrotfish that cover themselves in a blanket of their own mucus to tiny pygmy sea horses, there are some bizarre sea creatures that live in coral reefs . In this slideshow you can...
Blog entry MORE STORIES Blog entry MORE AUDIO / VIDEO
Stare at a tide pool and you will often see a crust of pink coating the bottom...
Coral reefs are bustling cities of marine life, until rising ocean temperatures...
Blog entry MORE STORIES Blog entry MORE AUDIO / VIDEO
When snorkeling in the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area (KHFMA) in...

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Compare the healthy coral on the left with the bleached coral on the right. Increased water temperatures caused the bleached coral to lose the microscopic algae that give the coral color and provide it with food. Corals can...
The Oculina deep-sea coral reef at top has not been disturbed by humans—but...
What are corals? Corals themselves are animals. But tropical reef-building...

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Coral reefs are the most diverse of all marine ecosystems. They teem with life, with perhaps one quarter of all ocean...
Remotely located in the central Pacific Ocean, south of Hawaii, the Line Islands provide a remarkable research opportunity. The archipelago includes coral reefs reflecting the whole spectrum of...
When snorkeling in the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area (KHFMA) in West Maui, I keep an eye out for certain kinds of fish. Not the brightest or the biggest, but those herbivores such as...
How do we know what coral reefs looked like hundreds of years ago? Often times, we are simply left wondering. Scientists can get an idea from naturalist recordings, but there are many unknowns and...
Tectitethya crypta (formerly known as Cryptotheca crypta ) is a large, shallow-water sponge found in the Caribbean. It was first studied for medical purposes in the 1950s when few scientists or...
A fan-shaped colony of red coral ( Corallium sp.) on the Davidson Seamount provides a perch for three basket stars as they feed. See more pictures of coral in our Deep-sea Corals article.
These cancer cells have been treated with discodermolide, a chemical obtained from a sponge that grows on deep-sea coral reefs. It prevents the cells from dividing and spreading. Learn more about...
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...
Each month, the Naked Oceans podcast invites a leading marine researcher to pick the "critter of the month" by asking: if you were a marine organism, which one would you be? This month, Dr. Nancy...
Bikini Atoll, formed over millions of years around an island in the Pacific Ocean about halfway between Papua New Guinea and Hawaii, has been subjected to horrific human-caused disturbances. Between...
by Laura Brodbeck A special type of marine protected area (MPA) called a “no-take zone” bans the removal of marine life from designated areas. At first glance, they seem like a hard sell to fishermen...
What is coral bleaching? These white corals in the Gulf of Mexico’s Flower Garden Bank National Marine Sanctuary are bleached due to an increase in water temperatures, which causes corals to lose the...
Imagine you’re an alien seeing Planet Earth for the first time. What do you see from your spacecraft? A blue planet with over 70% of its surface covered by ocean. From space it’s obvious how...
This bluefin trevally is lucky to call Hawaii’s Maro Coral Reef, part of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument , its home. Maro is the largest reef in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands and just...
How biodiverse is one coral reef compared to another? To find out, in Spring 2012, Smithsonian scientist Chris Meyer his students in the Indonesian Biodiversity Research Center (IBRC) course counted...
A marine scientist performs a genetic analysis on a sample of deep-sea coral to find out if it is a known species or one new to science. Find out how ocean scientists study deep-sea corals in our...
For the past week, the Indonesian Biodiversity Research Center (IBRC) diving class of 2012 has seen countless fish in shades of pink, blue, yellow, red, and green darting through corals and the...
A photo taken at a reef near Bocas del Toro, Panama. The reef suffered a mass bleaching event in the summer of 2010, when water temperatures were unusually high. In this photo, healthy brown coral...
Dr. Stephen Cairns is a research zoologist and chair of the Department of Invertebrate Zoology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. His research focuses on the diversity,...
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