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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 1946 and 1958, the...
Blog entry MORE STORIES Blog entry MORE AUDIO / VIDEO
Welcome to Citizens of the Sea , a new blog series where ocean life comes to...
Slideshow MORE STORIES Slideshow MORE AUDIO / VIDEO
From parrotfish that cover themselves in a blanket of their own mucus to tiny...
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...

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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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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...
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...
This purple urchin Paleopneustes cristatus is seldom seen by itself, and can be found in groups of hundreds. Dr. Dave Pawson , a senior scientist at NMNH who studies deep-sea echinoderms, is testing...
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...
Giant clams are one of the many wonders of coral reefs. They can grow up to five feet wide, weigh over 400 pounds, and live for 100 years! They power all that bulk by filter feeding microbes and...
I still haven’t gotten beyond the ‘gee whiz’ factor of studying communities of animals in deep-sea coral habitats. Climbing over undersea mountains and along the steep cliffs of submarine canyons...
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 explore some...
Beneath the sun shining through the Red Sea onto a hill of coral, butterfly fish ( Chaetodon lunula ), and angelfish swim together. The two fish can be confused for each other, but are distinguished...
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...
The pink strands of this single deep-sea coral harbor a variety of marine life. Sea whips are gorgonian corals and have flexible skeletons. See more pictures of coral in our Deep-sea Corals article.
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...
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...
Red coral necklaces fill a store display window. The United States annually imports around one million live coral animals from tropical reefs for use in aquariums, and is the largest documented...
This colorful coral lives in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. On the whole, this coral reef is the largest single structure built by living organisms and can be seen from space! Although more than one...
Scientists journey to the isolated island of Moorea on a quest to catalog every life form big enough to pick up with tweezers—from mountaintop to seafloor. Get up close and personal with researchers...
Coral reefs are bustling cities of marine life, until rising ocean temperatures turn them into ghost towns. Can reefs spring back from devastating bleaching events? In this episode of the Podcast of...
Check out the eyes on these Hawaiian squirrelfish ( Sargocentron xantherythrum )! Because squirrelfish are almost entirely nocturnal, they need big eyes to absorb as much moonlight and starlight as...
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...
Corals, sponges, and algae are the major components of most coral reef communities. To the untrained eye, they are sometimes difficult to tell apart. More about coral reef ecosystems can be found in...
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