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Protecting fish nurseries

Juvenile coral reef fish get food and protection from predators among the roots and nutrient-rich waters of coastal mangrove swamps. These valuable fish nurseries are disappearing at an alarming rate. MIT/WHOI Joint Program Graduate student Kelton McMahon is working to protect these critical areas for juvenile fish by analyzing otoliths (fish ear bones), which contain compounds that reflect the chemical address of the mangrove system where the fish grew up. McMahon’s goal is to identify which mangroves and how many should be included in marine reserves to safeguard coral reef fish for generations to come. (Illustration by E. Paul Oberlander, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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