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Images: Coral-Current Connections

To investigate corals and currents, WHOI scientists journeyed on ship called Sea Dragon, operated by Pangaea Explorations to Jarvis Island, a remote atoll in the central equatorial Pacific Ocean. (Emily Penn, Pangaea Explorations)
Jarvis Island is an uninhabited, less than 2-square-mile island that barely rises 20 feet out of the ocean. But it is located in a strategic spot to study the Equatorial Undercurrent, which flows along the Equator from west to east. (Eric S. Taylor, WHOI Graphic Services)
(Eric S. Taylor, WHOI Graphics Services.)
(Eric S. Taylor, WHOI Graphic Services)
WHOI diver Pat Lohmann uses an underwater pneumatic drill to extract a 1.5-inch-wide core sample of coral skeleton from coral off Jarvis Island. The skeletons record chemical changes that reflect properties of surrounding seawater. (Chip Young, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
A shark wanders over a coral reef during diving and coring operations off Jarvis Island in the equatorial Pacific. (Pat Lohmann, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
WHOI diver Pat Lohmann extracts a cylinder of coral skeleton. The coring does not harm the coral and the sample is later analyzed back in laboratories on shore. (Anne Cohen, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Back in the lab at WHOI, graduate student Alice Alpert, the author of this article, takes samples of coral from Jarvis Island for chemical analysis. (Hannah Barkley, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
A CT scan of a coral core shows that corals build their skeletons in annual bands, similar to annual growth rings in trees. Lighter regions are denser; darker regions are less dense. Using annual bands, scientists can reconstruct when changes in ocean conditions took place. (Courtesy of Alice Alpert, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
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