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Images: A Double Whammy for Corals

Dongsha Atoll in the South China Sea typically experiences tropical storms in June that produce strong winds and waves that bring in seawater from the open ocean to help corals stay cool. But in 2015, the weather in June was exceptionally calm, which amplified the effect of already warmer seawater. The combination caused extensive coral bleaching. (Base map: Google Earth, Data Sio, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, Image Landsat, Image U.S. Geological Survey.)
When seawater temperatures rise, the colorful symbiotic algae that live in corals depart, revealing corals' underlying white skeletons. These bleached corals are partially dead, as indicated by the tufts of green algae that quickly overgrow dead corals. (Tom DeCarlo, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Former MIT-WHOI graduate student Tom DeCarlo dives to retrieve a sensor that recorded data on ocean conditions during a widespread coral bleaching event off Dongsha Atoll in the South China Sea. (Pat Lohmann, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
A CT scan image of a skeletal core—a biopsy removed from a living Porites coral—reveals a bright white band that formed during the 2009/2010 El Niño. These "stress bands form during periods of prolonged bleaching. Bands that are deeper in the cores represent years that extend back in time and  can provide information about past bleaching events. (Anne Cohen, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
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