The Florida Keys is home to the third largest living coral barrier reef system in the world. The ecosystem is a habitat for fish species and other marine life and also serves as economically important touristic and recreational spot.
The Great Barrier Reef has been hit hard by climate change. As waters warm, the higher ocean temperatures force the coral to expel the algae that lives inside of it, providing it with both its nutrients and its brilliant colors. If the water does not cool fast enough and the algae does not return, the coral dies.
The non-profit organization Great Barrier Reef Legacy and marine scientist Charlie Veron, a world expert on coral reefs, confirmed the diversity of the site, also known as the "Legacy Super Site" on the outer reef.
By Marlene Cimons
Much of the deep sea has never been explored close-up by humans. Some submarines have plumbed its depths, but reaching the ocean bottom is a complicated and expensive journey, challenging because the seabed lies under more than three miles of water, which exerts huge amounts of pressure. "We know more about space than about the bottom of the oceans in our own planet, even though more than two-thirds of the surface of the Earth is covered by marine sediments," said Olivier Sulpis, a researcher and doctoral student at McGill University's department of earth and planetary sciences.
Cauliflower coral, a bushy species in the Hawaiian Islands that has been devastated by ocean warming triggered by human-caused climate change, could soon get federal protection. The National Marine Fisheries Service Wednesday announced that listing the species may be warranted under the Endangered Species Act, based on a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity.
Conservative lawmaker Scott Morrison has forced out Malcolm Turnbull as Australian prime minister, the third time the country's leader has sunk over climate policy in the past decade, and the seventh since 1997, according to Australia's ABC News.
An internal Liberal party row started when Turnbull proposed modest emissions targets for the country's energy sector. He dropped the plans Monday after pressure from the party's right-wing faction, but that led to a narrowly defeated leadership challenge from Peter Dutton on Tuesday, then a final ousting from Morrison on Friday.
The French overseas territory of New Caledonia announced Tuesday the highest possible levels of protection for some of the world's last unspoiled coral reefs.
All types of extraction, including commercial and industrial fishing, has been banned in the Chesterfield, Bellona, Entrecasteaux, Pétrie and Astrolabe coral ecosystems, according to a Tuesday press release from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which has long pushed the reefs' protection.
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.
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.