Coral Reefs

Corals are tiny animals that live in large communities made up of individual polyps that secrete a calcium carbonate substance that hardens and builds up to form the reef structure over time. There are different types of corals, such as brain corals and fan corals, that form different types of structures. The coral polyps live symbiotically with algae that provides them with their food. Disease, temperature extremes and pollution can cause corals to expel the algae, leaving only the white calcium carbonate skeleton behind, an event called coral bleaching. Coral bleaching is a worry with global warming heating up the oceans and carbon dioxide causing the oceans to acidify. Coral reefs are important ecosystems because they support larger communities of fish, mollusks, crustaceans and other sea creatures.
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Red Sea's Glowing Corals are Rainbow of Colors
June 26th, 2015
Deep in the Red Sea, beyond the reach of most scuba divers, coral reefs are putting on a glowing, colorful show, scientists have discovered.
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Exotic Deep-Sea Canyon Life at Risk (Gallery)
octopus, strange deep-sea creature
December 10th, 2014
The deep ocean is home to some truly unusual creatures.
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Balancing the Good and Bad: News for Coral Reefs
reefs cape in the Philippines
January 25th, 2015
Marine ecologist Paul Sikkel discusses his passion for and work with coral reefs and the best ways to protect them.
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Experts: Great Barrier Reef's Biggest Threat is Coal
A great butterfly fish, global warming
October 27th, 2014
Reef historian Iain McCalman, in Sydney, and reef scientist Stephen Palumbi, in California, are monitoring reef degradation from opposite sides of the planet. They compared notes.
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Sickly Coral Reefs Fail the Smell Test
Corals in a marine protected area
August 21st, 2014
When looking for a place to settle down, young corals and fish use chemical cues to sniff out bad neighborhoods littered with seaweed.
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Coral Pyramids in Micronesia Date Back to Middle Ages
Bat tomb corals
March 13th, 2015
New evidence reveals that the ancient coral tombs of Leluh in Micronesia could be up to 700 years old — much older than previously thought.
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Sharks Need Healthy Coral Reefs, 10-Year Study Finds
blacktip reef shark
September 10th, 2014
Healthy coral reefs, known for their brightly colored spiny and soft layers, provide a boon for sharks swimming through Australia's Great Barrier Reef, reports a new 10-year study that captured sharks on video camera.
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