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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Even in Deepwater Canyons, America's Corals At Risk (Op-Ed)
Lobster in coral offshore Virginia, dangers, endangered coral
August 15th, 2014
American corals are facing new risks, even at great depths.
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Deadly Coral Diseases Surge Near Dredging Sites
Effects of Dredging on Coral Reefs
July 21st, 2014
In a first study of its kind, researchers have linked dredging to increased sickness in nearby coral reefs. The researchers examined the health of corals around Barrow Island, off the west coast of Australia.
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Visualizing the Motion of Corals
Coral flows
June 12th, 2014
Award-winning science visualization shows how coral is able to create a long-lasting whirlpool structure that alters the local environment and enhances the coral's ability to "breathe."
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Oldest Animal-Built Reef Discovered in Namibia
namibian site of ancient reef
June 26th, 2014
Scientists have unearthed evidence for the oldest animal-built reef in the world, which was built by an ancient filter feeder called Cloudina some 550 million years ago.
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'Coral Corridors' Sheltered Fish from Climate Change
Indo-Australian reef fish
May 29th, 2014
One of the world's great coral reef regions protected fish from the ravages of climate change for the past 3 million years.
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As Coral Bleaching Continues, Reefs in Peril (Op-Ed)
coral reefs, coral bleaching
May 6th, 2014
Can anything stop the global collapse of coral reefs?
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Great Barriers: Reefs First Line of Coastal Defense
Reef in the Red Sea
May 15th, 2014
Coral reefs are an amazingly effective first line of defense for coastal communities.
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