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...

Discover Deep-sea Corals in Maine

Scientists with NOAA Fisheries discovered deep-sea coral gardens in relatively shallow waters of the Gulf of Maine in 2014. As their name suggests, deep-sea corals live in cold oceanic waters. Unlike shallow-water corals, however,...
Walter Adey and the NMNH coral reef tank

The Evolution of a Reef Aquarium

Adey in front of the original reef microcosm in the National Museum of Natural History. Credit: Smithsonian Institution Archives In the late 1970s, Walter Adey, a paleobiologist and coral reef researcher at the National...
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Traveling Around the World to Study the Future of the Ocean

By Dulce It takes three days of traveling to reach the islands of Papua New Guinea (PNG) from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Laetitia Plaisance , a researcher at...
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From Field to Lab: How Carbon Seeps Provide a Chance to See Future Impacts of Ocean Acidification

By Sarah Leinbach Every year, humans spew billions of tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, like coal, oil and natural gas. The world’s oceans absorb some of it,...

Connecting Coral Reefs

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...
Coral Spawning by Moonlight

A Tale of Sex and Stress in the Ocean

A coral has just spawned. Each of the hundreds of polyps releases a small pink bundle of sperm and eggs. Credit: Raphael Williams Welcome to Citizens of the Sea , a new blog series...
An underwater photo of coral recovering from a bleaching event.

A Pleasant Surprise: The Recovery of Bleached Panamanian Corals

These corals are still in recovery after a mass bleaching in Panama, in the summer of 2010. You can see some bleaching on the tops, but the sides are looking good. Credit: Amanda Feuerstein...

Coral Reefs Changing Over Time

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...

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