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Aerial view of Cancun coastline. Dronepicr / Wikipedia / CC BY 3.0

Buying insurance is one way to protect something of value, such as a car or a home. And now businesses in Cancun, Mexico, have insured a coral reef.

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A new report spotlights a U.N. estimate that at least 275 million people rely on healthy coral reefs. A sea turtle near the Heron Island in the Great Barrier Reef is seen above. THE OCEAN AGENCY / XL CATLIN SEAVIEW SURVEY

By Jessica Corbett

In a new report about how the world's coral reefs face "the combined threats of climate change, pollution, and overfishing" — endangering the future of marine biodiversity — a London-based nonprofit calls for greater global efforts to end the climate crisis and ensure the survival of these vital underwater ecosystems.

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Coral restoration in Guam. U.S. Pacific Fleet / CC BY-NC 2.0

By Erica Cirino

Visit a coral reef off the coast of Miami or the Maldives and you may see fields of bleached white instead of a burst of colors.

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A loudspeaker on a damaged reef attracts fish. Tim Gordon / University of Exeter

A team of British and Australian scientists have discovered an innovative way to help coral reefs recover from the climate crisis and other human-caused damage: loudspeakers.

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A scientist treats coral impacted by stony coral tissue loss disease. Brian Walker / Nova Southeastern University / NOAA

Scientists are racing to save coral reefs off the coast of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands from a virulent, deadly disease, Reuters reported Thursday, taking the unusual step of removing infected coral from the reef.

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Rebecca Albright in the California Academy of Science's darkroom where they are working on coral spawning and restoration efforts. Tara Lohan

By Tara Lohan

Visitors walk slowly through a room of dimmed lights and glowing tanks that bring the mysteries of the sea into plain view. The Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco is home to 900 different species — everything from brightly colored reef fish to prickly sea urchins, even an albino alligator named Claude.

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Coral reef in Belize.

XL CATLIN SEAVIEW SURVEY / THE OCEAN AGENCY

Hope may be on the horizon for the world's depleted coral reefs thanks to scientists who successfully reproduced endangered corals in a laboratory setting for the first time, according to Reuters.

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A solitary Dungeness crab sits in the foreground, at low tide on an overcast day. The crabs' shells are dissolving because of ocean acidification on the West Coast. Claudia_Kuenkel / iStock / Getty Images

As the Pacific Ocean becomes more acidic, Dungeness crabs, which live in coastal areas, are seeing their shells eaten away, according to a new study commissioned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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One species of walking shark. Mark Erdmann, California Academy of Sciences

Scientists have identified four new species of walking shark in the waters off Australia and New Guinea.

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A helicopter passes smoke from a wildfire on July 3, 2019 south of Talkeetna, Alaska. Alaska experienced its record-high temperatures in 2019. Lance King / Getty Images

Last year's brutal heat waves that swept through Europe, caused wildfires in Alaska and Siberia, and have left Australia as a tinderbox registered as the second hottest year ever — 0.1 degrees Fahrenheit or 0.04 degrees Celsius cooler than 2016, according to scientists at the Copernicus Climate Change Service, an intergovernmental agency supported by the European Union, as The New York Times reported.

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Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef. The Ocean Agency / Xl Catlin Seaview Survey

Marine heat waves are increasing in frequency, duration and intensity, which spell trouble for corals, according to new research from scientists working at the Great Barrier Reef.

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Forest biologist Patricia Maloney is raising 10,000 sugar pine seedlings descended from trees that survived California's historic drought. Lauren Sommer / KQED

By Lauren Sommer

When California's historic five-year drought finally relented a few years ago, the tally of dead trees in the Sierra Nevada was higher than almost anyone expected: 129 million. Most are still standing, the dry patches dotting the mountainsides.

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A healthy coral reef at Swains Island, American Samoa. NOAA / NMFS / PIFSC / CRED, Oceanography Team / CC BY 2.0

By Cody Clements

Coral reefs are home to so many species that they often are called "the rainforests of the seas." Today they face a daunting range of threats, including ocean warming and acidification, overfishing and pollution. Worldwide, more than one-third of all coral species are at risk of extinction.

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Lesions (white) eat into the tissue of maze corals on Flat Cay reef, near St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The lesions are caused by a new and deadly disease that's spreading through the Caribbean. Marilyn Brandt

Marine biologists are dealing with a mystery. What's killing the coral reefs in the Caribbean?

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A baby burrowing owl perched outside its burrow on Marco Island, Florida. LagunaticPhoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Burrowing owls, which make their homes in small holes in the ground, are having a rough time in Florida. That's why Marco Island on the Gulf Coast passed a resolution to pay residents $250 to start an owl burrow in their front yard, as the Marco Eagle reported.

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Underwater view of waves breaking over a healthy coral reef, reducing wave energy at the shoreline that can cause flooding. Curt Storlazzi, USGS

By Michael Beck

The news is grim: According to a report compiled by hundreds of scientists from 50 countries, Earth is losing species faster than at any other time in human history. Thanks to climate change, coastal development and the impacts of activities such as logging, farming and fishing, roughly 1 million plants and animals are facing extinction.

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mevans / E+ / Getty Images

The federal agency that manages the Great Barrier Reef issued an unprecedented statement that broke ranks with Australia's conservative government and called for urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Guardian.

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Bamboo Coral from Mytilus Seamount, NOAA

By Jon Queally

Defenders of ocean habitats celebrated Friday after a federal court upheld a lower court ruling defending the right of the U.S. executive branch to set aside marine areas as national monuments.

Citing the authority found under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to establish marine national monuments, the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia sided against a lawsuit brought by large fishing industry interests that challenged President Barack Obama's designation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which encompasses 4,913 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean off the nation's northeast coast, as a protected area.

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Roughly 250 beaches in northeastern Brazil are affected by the mysterious oil spill. Shutterstock / Joa Souza

By Emily Petsko

Update, Nov. 7: Brazilian authorities named a Greek-flagged vessel as the culprit of the oil spill, but backtracked on Wednesday when they announced that four other suspected tankers were also being investigated. Three of the crude-carrying vessels are owned by Greek companies, and the fourth suspect is owned by a Belgian company, according to Reuters.

Update, Nov. 4: Brazilian and international media are now reporting that fragments of oil have reached the Abrolhos Marine National Park. This story is still developing.

One by one, the golden beaches in northeastern Brazil have begun to turn black. Thick clumps of oil have been washing ashore since late August, killing marine animals, threatening the livelihoods of coastal communities and tainting 2,500 kilometers of coastline spanning nine Brazilian states. Once-pristine beaches now look like something resembling a Rorschach inkblot test. And the complex root systems of carbon sink mangrove forests have become polluted mazes.

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