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Displaying items by tag: coral

Australian researchers have investigated signs of geological structures hidden behind the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, and have found a much deeper reef spanning more than 6,000 square kilometres (2,316 square miles).

New seafloor maps of the area have revealed a vast, underwater field of doughnut-shaped mounds, each one measuring 200 to 300 metres (656 to 984 feet) across, and some as much as 30 metres deep.

Published in News
Wednesday, 17 August 2016 08:19

Eerie Video Shows How Coral Bleaches

Time-lapse video captures the coral's convulsions while it expels the algae that give it color.

Coral itself is not colorful. It gets it's hues from a special types of algae, called zooxanthellae, that lives in its tissues, feeding on the coral’s metabolic waste. In return, the algae produces sugars and amino acids that the coral polyp eats as food.

When coral gets stressed from events like a rise in water temperatures, it ejects its colorful algal companions, turning white in a process called bleaching. But how this happens is not well understood. So to figure it out, a team of researchers from Queensland University of Technology caught this process in action using time-lapse video.

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The Benthic Underwater Microscope opens up a whole new age of ocean exploration.

Since the discovery of the microscope over 350 years ago, scientists have gotten really good at looking at tiny things, right down to their atoms. But even the most advanced microscopes have one big flaw: they don’t work underwater. Ocean researchers typically have to collect samples from the briny blue and bring them back to their laboratories to take a good look, which means removing microscopic sea creatures from their habitat, often altering their behavior.

But a team of oceanographers recently cracked the problem, developing a Benthic Underwater Microscope that allows a scuba diver to look at and record the tiniest bits of sea life.

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Some of Thailand’s most prized dive sites have been closed indefinitely after the Department of National Parks’ survey found coral bleaching on 80 percent of some of the reefs. This is a bold move for a country where tourism accounts for 10 percent of its economy—and where officials were hoping to attract 32 million tourists this year, The Guardian reported. But then again, it sends the message Thailand officials want: Ignorant tourism is killing the reefs.

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If scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef is on your bucket list, you might want to book tickets soon.

This week, marine biologists dropped some horribly depressing news: the Great Barrier Reef is dying. The world’s largest reef is in the midst of a widespread coral bleaching event, and scientists aren’t sure whether it will fully recover.

Published in News
Thursday, 04 February 2016 10:02

Laboratory-bred corals reproduce in the wild

New hope for endangered corals: Scientists take an important step towards sustainable restoration of Caribbean reefs.

Researchers of SECORE International (USA, Germany), the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands) and the Carmabi Marine Research Station (Curaçao) have for the first time successfully raised laboratory-bred colonies of a threatened Caribbean coral species to sexual maturity. These findings have been published in the latest issue of the scientific journal Bulletin of Marine Science.

"In 2011, offspring of the critically endangered elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) were reared from gametes collected in the field and were outplanted to a reef one year later," explains Valérie Chamberland, coral reef ecologist working for SECORE and Carmabi.

"In four years, these branching corals have grown to a size of a soccer ball and reproduced, simultaneously with their natural population, in September 2015. This event marks the first ever successful rearing of a threatened Caribbean coral species to its reproductive age."

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Scientists have discovered that corals adapted to naturally high temperatures, such as those off the north west coast of Australia, are nonetheless highly susceptible to heat stress and bleaching.

Coral bleaching happens when sea temperatures rise, causing the breakdown of the symbiosis between coral and their zooxanthellae (the microscopic plants which gives coral most of its colour), which can be fatal for the coral.

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