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Last September, the Citizens of the Sea blog series brought you a story of doom and gloom from the reefs of Bocas del Toro, Panama. That is the time of year we typically study...
Ultraviolet light illuminates the growth rings in a cross-section of a 44-year-...
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Sample the surprising diversity of deep-sea corals. See some of the ways they...
Bikini Atoll, formed over millions of years around an island in the Pacific...

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"Macro shot of a whip coral goby, taken in Fiji during a trip to the Somosomo Strait," wrote Erwin Poliakoff of his image , a winning selection in the Portraits of Planet Ocean Flickr contest . Whip coral gobies ( Bryaninops...
This deep-sea black coral from Hawaii ( Leiopathes sp. ) is more than 4,200...
Giant clams are one of the many wonders of coral reefs. They can grow up to...

DIVE DEEPER

Coral reefs are the most diverse of all marine ecosystems. They teem with life, with perhaps one quarter of all ocean...
This colony of Lophelia pertusa was photographed from the Mingulay Reef Complex off Scotland in 2005. Learn more about the deep-sea coral reefs in our Deep-sea Corals article.
The long silver tool shown here is a piece of traditional Australian fishing gear called a “yabbie pump.” Researchers use the device to collect burrowing shrimp and other fast-moving animals from the...
by Amanda Feuerstein On the east coast of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula lies a small marine protected area that represents one of the most impressive successes in ocean conservation. Cabo Pulmo...
Is it lights out for corals once they have experienced a bleaching event? Not necessarily. This photo shows a coral reef near Bocas del Toro, Panama that is in the process of recovering from a mass...
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...
Nine years ago I was invited by a colleague to join a research team investigating deep-sea coral habitats . I was asked to examine the invertebrates associated with these ecosystems. After my first...
Sometimes called the rainforests of the sea, coral reefs are incredibly diverse and complicated systems. Because of this complexity, it can be a challenge to manage and protect reefs—and sometimes...
Papahānaumokuākea, a chain of islands northwest of the main Hawaiian archipelago, is home to vibrant coral reefs with scores of fish species. It was designated a Marine World Heritage Site in August...
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 .
Grey reef sharks ( Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos ) are among the most versatile and tough predators on a Pacific coral reef, but they are also among the most vulnerable species, as they are threatened...
Dead man’s fingers ( Alcyonium digitatum ) are soft corals named for their appendage-like appearance when thrown ashore by storms. The finger-like clumps of coral polyps come in various shades of...
An aerial photo of Carrie Bow Cay and the Smithsonian research station looking north with Twin Cays in the background. The Smithsonian’s Carrie Bow Cay Marine Field Station supports research projects...
This photo of Kingman’s Reef in the Line Islands shows what a healthy coral reef should look like. The water is crystal clear. A variety of richly colored corals carpet the seabed. And a native...
Half a century after nuclear testing blasted the reefs of Bikini Atoll, corals have recovered.
Staghorn (seen here) and elkhorn corals are listed as Threatened under the U.S. Endangered Specis Act, as their numbers have fallen catastrophically due to disease. Listed in 2006, they were the only...
A crown-of-thorns starfish ( Acanthaster planci ) on a reef in the Marianas Islands. An “outbreak” of these coral-eating starfish can decimate a reef, and they have done great damage on Australia's...
A scuba diver explores elkhorn corals ( Acropora palmata ) growing on a tropical reef. Coral reefs provide recreation and inspiration for millions of people every year. Elkhorn coral is listed as...
This map shows where some of the most significant species of deep-sea corals are located. Learn more about the distribution and ecology of deep ocean corals in the article " Coral Gardens of the Deep...
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