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The “Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef,” a unique exhibition and thought-provoking fusion of science, conservation, mathematics, and art, is on display in Washington, D.C., at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. By engaging local...
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Tiny plant-like organisms called zooxanthellae live in the tissues of many...
Coral reefs are beautiful, vibrant ecosystems that house roughly one quarter of...
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The pre-industrial American landscape was once rightly described as a place...

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What are corals? Corals themselves are animals. But tropical reef-building corals have tiny plant-like organisms living in their tissue. The corals couldn’t survive without these microscopic algae–called zooxanthellae (zo-zan-...
Blast fishing, when dynamite or other explosives are used to stun or kill...
How does a coral spend its day? Most of us would say: not doing much. To the...

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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...
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...
Tree corals like this Calyptrophora bayer can grow several meters high and resemble brightly colored trees. This deep-sea coral was found 1,683 m (5,522 ft) deep on the Davidson Seamount. See more...
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...
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...
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.
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...
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...
Tiny plant-like organisms called zooxanthellae live in the tissues of many animals, including some corals , anemones, and jellyfish , sponges, flatworms, mollusks and foraminifera . These microscopic...
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...
The small larvae of elkhorn coral ( Acropora palmata ) settle and grow on the crustose coralline algae species Hydrolithon boergesenii .
Half a century after nuclear testing blasted the reefs of Bikini Atoll, corals have recovered.
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.
A diver swims among a school of fish at Bikini Atoll, a reef which has shown resilience and recovered from nuclear testing in the 1940s and 1950s.
Coral reefs are some of the most endangered ecosystems on the planet that are home to beautiful wildlife and provide food to many people living on the coast. So how do you protect the reefs without...
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 the...
Dr. Amy Baco-Taylor observed corals like these on her first submarine dive to a deep-sea coral bed off the coast of Hawaii. They include primnoids, zoanthids, and Gerardia . The high density and...
Sponges are animals that eat tiny food particles as they pump water through their bodies. They are very common on Caribbean coral reefs, and come in all shapes, sizes and colors. There is great...
Boring sponges get a bad rap. Their own name betrays them, announcing to the world that they are unexciting, ordinary and quite frankly, boring. However, if ever a misnomer existed, this is it. More...
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