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Oceans
New Caledonia is home to the world's third-largest coral reef structure, a UNESCO World Heritage site. NASA

New Caledonia Bans All Types of Extraction Surrounding Pristine Coral Reefs

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.

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Oceans
A diver with Hawaii's Division of Aquatic Resources removes invasive algae from a reef using a "super sucker" vacuum. DAR

Researchers Use Technology and Nature to Save Hawaii’s Coral Reefs From Invasive Algae

Researchers at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the state of Hawaii's Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) have developed an innovative method of removing invasive macroalgae that can smother coral reefs, the University of Hawaii reported Aug. 9.

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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
Major coral bleaching event in 2016 at Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Oregon State University/ Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Great Barrier Reef in Danger of Mass Coral Bleaching Events Every Two Years

The Great Barrier Reef—Australia's remarkable but imperiled natural wonder—is under risk of repeat coral bleaching events unless greenhouse gas emissions are slashed, Australia's Climate Council warned Thursday.

The new report, Lethal Consequences: Climate Change Impacts on the Great Barrier Reef, determined that by 2034, the extreme ocean temperatures that led to the mass bleaching events of 2016 and 2017 may occur every two years if emissions continue on current trends.

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Oceans
Coral reef outcrop part of the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge and the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. Lindsey Kramer / USFWS / CC BY-NC 2.0

Hawaii to Approve Landmark Ban on Coral-Damaging Sunscreens

Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed a bill Tuesday prohibiting the sale of sunscreen that contains chemicals considered harmful to ocean ecosystems, including coral reefs.

The Aloha State is the first in the nation to enact such a law.

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Oceans
Antonio Busiello / WWF-US

Belize’s Incredible Barrier Reef Recovers From 'In Danger' Status

Thanks to a series of conservation measures enacted by Belize's government, the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System—one the world's most incredible, diverse ecosystems—has been removed from the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger sites.

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Oceans
Seagrass meadows are vital ecosystems for marine animals. P. Lindgren / Wikimedia Commons

There’s Now an App for Mapping Seagrass, the Oceans’ Great Carbon Sink

The launch of an online crowdsourcing database for seagrass hopes to breathe new life into efforts to conserve the underwater flowering plants, which act as both important habitats for marine species and a major store of carbon dioxide.

Patchy mapping of seagrass meadows has hampered efforts to protect the plants (which are distinct from seaweed) from threats such as coastal development, sedimentation, coral farming and sand mining, according to Richard Unsworth, a marine biologist at Swansea University in the UK and co-founder of environmental charity Project Seagrass.

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Oceans
Ash covers the observation deck of the Jagger Museum, showing a cracked floor. National Park Service

Coral Reefs Lost to Kīlauea Eruption

By Dan Zukowski

When searing black lava from fissure 8 slid into the Pacific Ocean at Kapoho Bay on June 3, it had been five weeks since the collapse of the Pu'u 'Ō'ō crater, along the eastern rift zone of the Kīlauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island. Toxic, acid-laden steam billowed high above boiling waves. Within 36 hours, the bay became paved over by lava, creating a new coastline almost a mile out and destroying shallow-water coral reefs and tidepools.

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