Coral Reefs

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Sample the surprising diversity of deep-sea corals. See some of the ways they differ in color, shape, and size. Explore more in the multimedia feature " Coral Gardens of the Deep Sea ."
Bikini Atoll, formed over millions of years around an island in the Pacific...
Coral reefs are bustling cities of marine life, until rising ocean temperatures...
Stare at a tide pool and you will often see a crust of pink coating the bottom...

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In this photo of a shallow coral reef in the Pacific there are three species of forams . On the left, Peneroplis planatus . In the center, Amphistegina lessonii . And on the right, Laevipeneroplis sp. Their colors come from the...
This deep-sea black coral from Hawaii ( Leiopathes sp. ) is more than 4,200...
These cancer cells have been treated with discodermolide, a chemical...

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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...

The Ocean Blog

A coral ( Montastraea faveolata ) has just spawned. Each of the hundreds of polyps living in the colony releases a small pink bundle of sperm and eggs. Read more about coral spawing and watch a...
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...
Dr. Claude Payri, a researcher working on the Moorea Biocode Project , collects samples on the reef slope of Moorea, French Polynesia. More about the Island of Moorea can be found in our Scientists...
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 -- and celebrate -- the...
Dr. Martha Nizinski holds a specimen of a fan sponge ( Phakellia sp. ) collected at a deep-sea coral study site off the coast of South Carolina. Deep-sea corals and sponges provide structure for a...
This close-up photograph of gold coral ( Gerardia sp. ) was taken at the Cross Seamount in the Pacific Ocean at a depth of 400 m (1,312 ft). Gold corals at this location can have lifespans of 2,000...
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...
In the X-ray image of this Viper Moray Eel ( Enchelynassa canina ), note the second set of jaws in the “throat”; these are the gill arches, which are present in all fish. Gill arches support the...
A sea lion in the Sea of Cortez observes Dr. Peter Auster as he observes reef fishes. Learn more about deep-sea coral reefs in our Deep-sea Corals article.
Many species of pink coralline algae cover a reef surface in the Southern Line Islands. Often unnoticed, these pink algae crusts help to cement coral reefs together, providing extra support and...
Welcome to Moorea, a tiny, isolated island in the middle of the vast Pacific. Moorea is 132 square kilometers (51 square miles) of tropical ecosystems – from jungle and wetlands to beaches and coral...
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...
These beautiful mandarinfish ( Synchiropus splendidus ) are covered in bright blue, red, yellow and orange waves. What they lack, however, are traditional fish scales. They live in western Pacific...
Shallow water coral reefs straddle the equator worldwide. The shallow coral reefs found in U.S. territorial waters are highlighted in purple in this map. More about coral reef ecosystems can be found...
In the past 30 years, the Great Barrier Reef -- Australia's iconic natural wonder -- has lost half of its coral to a combination of forces. Dr. Nancy Knowlton, Sant Chair of Marine Science at the...
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...
The pre-industrial American landscape was once rightly described as a place where “the deer and the antelope roam.” On land, we take it for granted that the plant-eating deer and antelope far...
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...
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