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Above the Reef Flat

Above the Reef Flat

March 28, 2019

Kan-Min of the Dongsha Atoll Research Station steers a research vessel over Dongsha’s coral reef in the South China Sea, where former MIT-WHOI Joint Program student Tom DeCarlo conducted fieldwork. DeCarlo was lead author of a study that showed how a combination of unusual weather conditions and warmer waters triggered widespread coral bleaching–a phenomenon that happens when the colorful symbiotic algae that live in corals depart, revealing corals underlying white skeletons. Without food produced by algae, the corals can die. In 2015, strong winds that usually bring cool waters onto the reef did not appear to temper rising ocean temperatures. (Photo by Tom DeCarlo, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)