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bleached coral reef

Going, Going, Gone

Corals on Dongsha Atoll, a remote coral reef ecosystem in the northern South China Sea, were severely damaged in June 2015 when a 2°C rise in ocean temperature was amplified to 6°C on the reef by unusually calm weather. The study, published in Scientific Reports and led by Tom DeCarlo, former MIT-WHOI Joint Program student in WHOI scientist Anne Cohen's lab, highlights the danger to shallow water reefs of even moderate levels of warming. In response to the hike in temperature, this Porites colony ejected its algal symbionts, causing the coral polyps to turn white. Without their symbionts, the polyps starve and eventually die. Some parts of this coral are already dead and covered with turf algae. (Photo by Tom DeCarlo, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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