Coral Reefs

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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...
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Stare at a tide pool and you will often see a crust of pink coating the bottom...
Coral reefs are bustling cities of marine life, until rising ocean temperatures...
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When snorkeling in the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area (KHFMA) in...

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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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Coral reefs are the most diverse of all marine ecosystems. They teem with life, with perhaps one quarter of all ocean...
The Oculina deep-sea coral reef at top has not been disturbed by humans—but trawling has devastated the one at bottom. When fishermen trawl, they drag a net along the seafloor, destroying everything...
Reef biologists over a certain age are haunted by memories of what glorious places Caribbean reefs once were. In our youth we studied them for all sorts of reasons but scarcely thought about reef...
Corals are sedentery animals, so how do they reproduce? One way is sexually through spawning , when the corals release eggs and sperm into the water (often at the same time due to some sort of...
Imagine you’re an alien seeing Planet Earth for the first time. What do you see from your spacecraft? A blue planet with over 70% of its surface covered by ocean. From space it’s obvious how...
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...
Branching corals, because of their more fragile structure, struggle to survive in acidified waters that surround the volcanic CO 2 seeps of Papua New Guinea. Read more about how reef scientist...
How does a coral spend its day? Most of us would say: not doing much. To the human eye, a coral looks relatively still, waiting in the current and hoping some food will run into its tentacles. But...
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...
Just like other seahorse species, male weedy sea dragons are the ones to get 'pregnant' and give birth to the babies. To show he is ready to hold eggs, the male wrinkles part of his tail. On this...
Colorful corals and brittlestars inhabit the Manning Seamount in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of New England. Here you can see golden-colored coral (Enallopsamia rostrata), pinkish-brown coral (...
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...
This deep-sea black coral from Hawaii ( Leiopathes sp. ) is more than 4,200 years old. Black corals are named for the color of their skeletons, but the external tissues of black corals come in many...
Coral reefs are beautiful, vibrant ecosystems that house roughly one quarter of all marine species and provide billions of dollars in products and services to humans each year. But they are also...
The small larvae of elkhorn coral ( Acropora palmata ) settle and grow on the crustose coralline algae species Hydrolithon boergesenii .
Species of deep-sea gold coral, or Gerardia , often have a tree-like shape, as you can see in this specimen. See more pictures of coral in our Deep-sea Corals article.
A variety of organisms make their home on this tropical coral reef in Indonesia. More about coral reef ecosystems can be found in the Coral Reefs section .
This forest of Christmas tree worms is a group of polychaete worms that live on tropical coral reefs. See more celebratory ocean creatures in our slideshow!
There aren't any mummies or zombies buried under the seafloor: instead the ocean has its own terror from below, the bobbit worm ( Eunice aphroditois ). A couple inches wide and up to ten feet long,...
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