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Images: Coral

WHOI scientists found this robust coral reef living in a location where (for naturally occurring reasons) seawater is more acidic than normal. Generally, such conditions would thwart corals because they use carbonate ions in seawater to build their skeletons, and more acidic seawater has fewer carbonate ions in it for corals to use. These corals in Palau, however, apparently have adapted to more acidic conditions that are expected to occur in the oceans over coming decades.

(Hannah Barkley, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

WHOI scientists are searching for “resilient reefs” such as this one in Palau for two reasons: First, to identify coral sites that should be protected because they are most likely to survive more acidic ocean conditions expected in the future; second, to learn how these corals have adapted to living under lower-pH conditions.

(Hannah Barkley, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Coral reefs are sometimes called the “rainforests of the ocean,” because they provide habitat that promotes a diversity of life and the health of marine ecosystems. They are also a major source of fish for food, a tourism destination that stimulates local economies, and barriers that protect coastlines from storm damage.

(Hannah Barkley, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

WHOI scientists are building relationships with conservation organizations, local scientists and government officials to communicate scientific information on corals, so that informed decisions can ensure their protection.

(Hannah Barkley, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)