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Oceans
New computer forecasting tools could buy time to help corals in trouble, like this knobby finger coral in Hawaii. Keoki Stender / marinelifephotography.com

Forecasting Coral Disease Outbreaks Could Buy Time to Save Reefs

By Amy McDermott

Hawaii's knobby finger coral careened toward extinction in 2015. The species was so rare that scientists could only find a few fragments in the wild, scattered across the seabed of Oahu's Kaneohe Bay.

It might have been a familiar story. Vanishing species like Southern Resident orcas and North Atlantic right whales pile up in the news. Outlooks are especially bleak for corals. Rising ocean temperatures cause bleaching, which has killed 30 to 40 percent of reefs worldwide in recent years. But the knobby finger coral's story didn't go that way, thanks to computer forecasting: science's crystal ball.

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Oceans
Plates of leaf-like foliose corals are common on the Philippines' Benham Bank. Oceana / UPLB

'Twilight Zone' Reefs Win a Conservation Spotlight

By Allison Guy

In May 2016, technical divers descended 200 feet to Benham Bank, the shallowest portion of a huge underwater plateau off the Philippines' northeast tip. As they neared the bottom, an otherworldly landscape emerged from the dim cobalt blue.

Plates of coral grew one atop the other like china at a yard sale, dotted with sea fans and sprigs of algae. Coral columns encrusted in yellow, orange and pink coralline algae looked as though they'd been splashed with rainbow paint. Colonies thrived as far as the eye could see.

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Climate
The Washington Post / Contributor / Getty Images

Climate Change May Stimulate the Chesapeake’s Blue Crab Population

By Amy McDermott

Jason McElwain isn't afraid of a pinch. He reached calmly into a basket of live crabs one Friday this June, and kept his cool even when a claw clamped down hard on his finger. "You get used to it after a while," he said, then yanked the crab off and tossed it into a plastic bin.

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Animals
Plastic trash isn't safe for kids, whether human or bear. Kevin Morgans Wildlife Photography

Even Polar Bear Cubs Can’t Escape Plastic Pollution

By Allison Guy

Plastic bags are often stamped with an all-caps warning: This bag is not a toy. Unfortunately, polar bear moms don't have much control over their kids' playthings.

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Oceans
Gloomy octopuses have expanded down the East Coast of Australia in recent years. Here, one recovers from tissue sampling, aimed to uncover the mysteries of their move. Colin Silvey

Australian 'Gloomy Octopus' Leads Murky Wave of Climate Change Invasions

By Amy McDermott

Gloomy octopuses used to blend in. They were just another cephalopod, drab-gray and medium-bodied, living in the ocean off east-central Australia. Until, a few decades ago, the octopuses started to spread.

They crept south, establishing populations down Australia's East Coast, a climate change hotspot where seawater temperatures are rising almost four times faster than the global average. Gloomies love the heat—and chowing down on shellfish. If the newcomers' appetites disrupt existing fisheries, researchers say, they could spell trouble.

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Animals
Atlantic cod is one of hundreds of fish species in which larger females lay more, and healthier eggs. OCEANA / Carlos Minguell

Old, Fat Fish Have the Most Offspring, Sustainability Study Finds

By Annie Roth

It might seem smart to eat the big fish and throw the little ones back. But a recent study in the journal Science says just the opposite. Big fish are the ones to throw back, especially if they're female.

That's because bigger females have disproportionately more babies than their smaller counterparts.

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Climate
Deep-sea corals may not be flashy, but they deserve a second look. Oceana

Ignoring Deep-Sea Corals Is Risky for the Oceans, and for Us

By Nathan Johnson

The deep sea might be cold and dark, but it's not barren. Down here, an incredible diversity of corals shelters young fish like grouper, snapper and rockfish. Sharks, rays and other species live and feed here their whole lives.

Brightly colored coral gardens, far beyond the reach of the sun's rays, don't just nurture deep-sea life. They also help advance medical research and understand climate change.

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Food
Warming water puts fish on the move. Fishermen adapt, or fall behind. Here, a boat cruises Canada's Mackenzie River. Leslie Philipp/ Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Fish and Fishermen Already Moving to Survive Climate Change

By Amy McDermott

The Inuvialuit and Gwich'in peoples spend their summers fishing off the coast of Canada's Yukon Territory. For generations, they've trekked from towns around the Western Arctic to a spit called Shingle Point, where the Mackenzie River's braided flows spill off North America into the Beaufort Sea. The nutrient-rich waters at the mouth of the Mackenzie are fat with marine fish, drawn in by the brief abundance of Arctic summer. Indigenous families subsist on these fish and other wild resources throughout the warm months.

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Food
Children fish off a dock in Coron, Philippines. Coastal people worldwide depend on fish for nutrition. Oceana / Silvia García

Losing Wild Fish Would Be a Nuisance in Some Places, a Health Crisis in Others

By Amy McDermott

Local, wild seafood is essential for global health. Around the world, more than 3 billion people rely on fish as a substantial part of their diet. Nearby fisheries offer vitamins and minerals otherwise unavailable in poor coastal areas.

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